Thursday, December 1, 2011

Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie
narrated by Sam Dastor
Ⓟ 2009, Whole Story Audio
21.50 hours

The Satanic Verses is a brilliant, ironic - nearly absurdist, accessible and, engaging novel about two men who fall from a plane that has exploded over The English Channel. From the onset, images of surreal and intense quality flash before the mind's eye, not unlike Alice falling down the rabbit hole. The pictures and language pour out as quickly as a stream of consciousness, at the same time moving with the deceptive slowness of a dream. "Magical realism" is a term that has been applied to this book; but the magic in The Satanic Verses is not really blended with reality so much as we are seeing the mind of each of the protagonists trying to make sense out of the mundane-but-nearly-inexplicable things that happen in their lives. In this way, the idea of creating images to help the person ingest what they are seeing, projecting meaning into events, deconstructing and reconstructing identities and, re-creating our world in a natural and god-like fashion, brings to the fore the question the amount of magic realism that each of use employs at any given moment. Whenever an individual imbues meaning onto a person, a place or thing, they are using their imagination to create a magical realism bubble of their own making and in which they reside. As individuals, we create our values from a subjective space, from within this bubble. We can share our visions whether it is in a common language, family history or, appreciation for a work of art. It is no coincidence that the two protagonists, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha are actors, a film star and voiceover performer respectively. These two men live an extreme version of magical realism, being paid to superimpose other peoples visions, to channel a creative idea and, proselytize another's perspective.

For those who are grounded solely in Western, Christian or atheistic cultures, the metaphors with Eastern, Muslim and Indian cultures may be lost upon them; but the novel remains accessible regardless. The outsider glimpses enough of Farishta's and Chamcha's worlds to understand their living contexts and; the concepts of existentialism are universal. For those who have been exposed to or, are a part of Eastern, Muslim and Indian culture, the inherent cultural metaphors are obvious and those listeners will unquestionably get more out of the allegorical devices within the story. Anyone's interpretation of The Satanic Verses is a part of their own magical reality.

Sam Dastor narrated The Satanic Verses. His British accent, light comic delivery and his deftness with the material combine for an engaging audio experience. His pace prevents the listener from becoming mired or overindulgent with the text without treating any of the writing as superficial.

Other Stuff:

This title qualifies for the What's in a Name? Challenge #4 hosted by @BethFishReads. The Satanic Verses is an audiobook with [Evil] in the title, "Satanic."

This book also qualifies for the South Asian Author Challenge 2011:

I purchased this title from I receive no goods or services in exchange for reviewing this product, mentioning any of the persons or companies named in this post (including but not limited to the audiobook publisher, the vendor from which I purchased the audiobook, author, narrator and/or, the hosts of the challenges) or, the challenges for which this book qualifies.

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
--- Sigmund Freud

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