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Los Angeles, 1991. Maximilian Ophuls, one of the makers of the modern world, is knifed to death in broad daylight on the doorstep of his illegitimate ...Show synopsisLos Angeles, 1991. Maximilian Ophuls, one of the makers of the modern world, is knifed to death in broad daylight on the doorstep of his illegitimate daughter India, slaughtered by his Kashmiri driver, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the Clown. The dead man is a World War II Resistance hero, a man of formidable intellectual ability and much erotic appeal, a former United States ambassador to India, and subsequently America's counter-terrorism chief. The murder looks at first like a political assassination but turns out to be passionately personal. This is the story of Max, his killer, and his daughter - and of a fourth character, the woman who links them, whose story explains them all. The story of a deep love gone fatally wrong, destroyed by a shallow affair, it is an epic narrative that moves from California to France, England, and above all, Kashmir. At its heart is the tale of that earthly paradise of peach orchards and honey bees, of mountains and lakes, of green-eyed women and murderous men: a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed. Lives are uprooted, names keep changing - nothing is permanent, yet everything is connected. Spanning the globe and darting through history, Salman Rushdie's majestic narrative captures the heart of the reader and the spirit of a troubled age.Hide synopsis
This book interweaves the stories of multiple characters around the love/hate story of its 2 main characters. The book begins and ends in California, but the majority of it occurs in India. The time spans pre-WW II until this century and includes time escaping the Nazi menace.
Rushdie writes in a lyrical style that contains passion, MUCH humor and deep insight into his characters. He also offers an original perspective on the contribution of JFK's philandering to his successful assassination.
This was a good story, particularly the last quarter of the it. Rushdie's prose style is entertaining, though without a good story, it's harder to enjoy. Ground Beneath..and Fury both struck me as really lacking. Rushdie was working outside his normal setting---mostly in western, crossing to eastern, rather than eastern passing to western--and it didn't work. Here, there was the magical aspect ( toward the end) that helps the story transcend. I don't need to hear about rock and roll from Salman. I do need to hear about the cultures and language and imagery from someone who knows better than me, namely him. Sadly, gone are the mystic days of Midnight's Children and the Moor's Last Sigh. But Shalimar's walking on air builds the tension and excitement that reminds me of Shame, in which the crazed beast-girl circles into her target at the end. The pages almost seem to catch fire with the rush. Shalimar isn't quite there, but it's fairly good. As always, there seems to be some politics at work nearby...Rushdie discussed some of this with Fareed Zakaria, specifically the "unrest" in the Kashmir region. That conflict is the underlying setting for the novel.
I am not a tremendous fiction reader, but i got the book for my son for whom it was assigned reading for his first year at Vassar. Before he got to it, I picked it up and was enthralled. It takes a while to get used to Rushdie's time-hopping, but the pay-off is worth it. Again, for me, fiction is only interesting if it can transport you to, and offer enlightenment on a different world. I am interested in Indian culture and history, and this book was so compelling that i went on to read three or four other books on the histories to which Rushdie alludes in the book.
The plot is complicated, and his genius is evident in how he ties it all up so brilliantly.
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