Monday, April 9, 2012


This is the first Rushdie book I read - Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Wikipedia (Link: calls this book a phantasmagorical (the word itself sounds magical) story, phantasmagorical meaning characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions. 

The book begins like this - There was once , in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy...

Though this is the first paragraph of this 12 chapters book, no gloomy clouds descend on the reader thereafter anywhere in this book. Actually meant for young readers, this offers a great read for adults too. In fact, the narration style deployed brings a wide smile as the reader happily sails through the Sea of Stories. 

Brief overview of the plot:

The story is based in India, there is mention of the Town of G (possibly referring to Gulmarg), the Valley of K (referring to Kashmir), the tunnel of I, Dull Lake (pointing to Dal lake). The story is about Haroun Khalifa, a child, who lives cheerfully with his parents - Rashid Khalifa and Soraya in a house that looks more like a cake. Rashid is a great story teller and has credits like the Shah of Blah, the one with Gift of Gab and tells tales, amazing and interesting ones. When Haroun wonders where his father gets this immense talent and multitude of stories from, Rashid quips - from the great Story Sea. There is a nasty turn in their lives that forces Rashid into depression and pale silence; Haroun swears to himself that he will restore the Gift of Gab to his father and bring back cheer in him, at any cost; even if takes a trip to the unknown land of Gup on Kahani - the second satellite of Earth. There he interacts and makes friends with aliens - water genies, eggheads, floating gardeners, many-mouthed fishes and machine like birds. He learns that on Kahani, there are too many Processes too Complicated to Explain (P2C2E). Haroun even finds himself in a war like situation on Kahani where people of Gup city - the Guppies are fighting to save themselves from the Land of Chup, across the border and its inhabitants - the Chupwalas. 

The Wikipedia link given in the blog post contains full synopsis of the book, a complete spoiler, much like the detailed synopsis of movies on IMDB. So if you plan to read this book, steer clear off the link. 

About book and the author, my recommendations: 

I have heard negative reviews of Rushdie's writing style/books more than positive ones, so I was little skeptical before I picked this book from Flipkart. But after reading this, I can state categorically, there is no better story teller than Rushdie; he is an unparalleled master at his job. 

Very few books bring a childlike happiness in the reader and envelopes him/her in magical bliss, Haroun and the Sea of Stories belongs to this smallest subset of books. Being quite possessive about my books, I will surely get cross if someone even marginally displaced this book in my shelf ;) 

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