Published by Random House Publishing Group on September 8, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fiction, Literary, Magical Realism
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling. In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub–Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining. Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world. Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights—or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse. Inspired by the traditional “wonder tales” of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.
This was my first time reading Rushdie. His writing, the atmosphere he creates—wow, ravishing! He is renowned for good reason.
His storytelling is intricate, meandering here and there, intersecting as it wishes. But as the novel progressed, I couldn’t help but feel there was too much wandering. The pacing was slow. Really, really, really slow. Which could have been an amazing experience because honestly, his writing is that beautiful. However, readers are expected to push through the slow pace while making major breaks from reality. You know, I’m usually okay with suspending reality (I mean, Murakami and Bender are my favorite authors) but here? It required a lot of effort. I’m going to blame it on the heavy dose of fantasy. Unfortunately, even when I’m in the mood to give it a try, fantasy rarely works for me.
I was left feeling torn. The parts of this book I enjoyed, I loved to my core. There are passages I highlighted simply for the beauty of the phrases. But that wasn’t enough to leave me satisfied with the novel as a whole, which was disappointing, because there were plenty of elements that usually perk me up: magical realism, surrealism, sci-fi. Regardless, I will definitely read Rushdie again.