First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Just before dawn one winter’s morning, a hijacked jumbo jet blows apart high above the English Channel. Through the debris of limbs, drinks trolleys, memories, blankets, and oxygen masks, two figures fall toward the sea: Gibreel Farishta, India’s legendary movie star, and Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices, self-made self and Anglophile supreme. Clinging to each other, singing rival songs, they plunge downward, and are finally washed up, alive, on the snow-covered sands of an English beach.
Their survival is a miracle, but an ambiguous one, as Gibreel acquires a halo, while, to Saladin’s dismay, his own legs grow hairier, his feet turn into hooves, and hornlike appendages appear at his temples.
Gibreel and Saladin have been chosen (by whom?) as opponents in the eternal wrestling match between Good and Evil. But which is which? Can demons be angelic? Can angels be devils in disguise? As the two men tumble through time and space toward their final confrontation, we are witness to a cycle of tales of love and passion, of betrayal and faith: the story of Ayesha, the butterfly-shrouded visionary who leads an Indian village on an impossible pilgrimage; of Allelluia Cone, the mountain climber haunted by a ghost who urges her to attempt the ultimate feat – a solo ascent of Everest; and, centrally, the story of Mahounds, the Prophet of Jahilia, the city of sand – Mahound, the recipient of the revelation in which satanic verses mingle with the divine.
I’ve always been intrigued by Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses because of its unusual title. However, I’ve remained ambivalent about it for the longest time. Yes, Rushdie is currently one of my favorite authors and Midnight’s Children is one of my favorite all-time reads. There was just something so different about The Satanic Verses that made me refuse to touch it. Maybe the reference to Satan made it sound so ominous. Despite this, I bought a copy of the book but never bothered with it and left it to gather dust in my bookshelf.
Things changed after I read Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Upon researching more about the book, I’ve learned about a part of Rushdie’s personal history that raised my antenna and interest on The Satanic Verses. By now, I know that Haroun was written by Rushdie for his son to make up for the time he was an absentee father. What caused him to go incognito? This is where The Satanic Verses comes in. It was so highly controversial that Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran to issue a fatwā calling for Rushdie’s death. It is this that further piqued my interest into this book.
Rushdie’s fourth novel, it was apparently inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. I guess this was the reason why it raised many an eyebrow. The book is even banned in Rushdie’s native India. I have just started reading the book, hence, I wasn’t able to make much of an impression. However, I did notice something. The writing is closer to his earlier works like Midnight’s Children, compared to his recent works The Golden House and Quichotte. It is, thus, more complex and insightful, at the same time.
I am still finding my foothold into the story. I did notice that the book, at the start, made several references to reincarnation but apart from that, I can’t make out much of the story. Well, aside from what was stated in the synopsis. I am really intrigued by the book so I am looking forward to the experience so much. It does seem like a story that one wouldn’t want to rush. Yes, I am cognizant that Rushdie writes with a certain degree of difficulty, if I may import a term. His writing has a deliberately slow pace so that the reader will breathe in each word, each scene and each character.
I guess it is pretty obvious, the book roused an interest that is slowly percolating into a boil. I just hope that the book will live up to my expectations which are, admittedly, very lofty. I am, after all, always looking forward to an interesting and intriguing story and The Satanic Verses seem to offer both.
How about you fellow reader? What book are you currently reading right now? I hope you are enjoying it in the comforts and the safety of your homes. We are locked up in an uncertain future and reading is a means to while away the time. Keep safe, always dear friends and readers.