Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

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Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Stephen Leach
Reviewed by Stephen Leach
Summary: A slow-moving but beautifully written fantastical novel inspired by the traditional 'wonder tales' of the East.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1910702031

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Tediously captivating may not sound like the most compelling recommendation for a book you've ever heard. Yet it's the nearest I can come to summing up the style of this novel, which features some of the most beautiful language and imagery I've ever read whilst telling a story which moves at a glacial pace.

Perhaps I'm too used to books which grab you aggressively from the first page and catapult you headfirst into the action, content to fill you in on the nitty-gritty of the story later on. Or perhaps I'm not quite patient enough to wade through layers of exposition before I begin the story proper.

The first chapter of this novel, in which Rushdie lays out the story of Dunia, a jinn who falls for the human philosopher Ibn Rushd, had me hooked; the next few struggled to hold my interest. This was due mostly to the way Rushdie blends the events of the vignettes with expositional narration, slowing their pace to a crawl.

While I didn't outright dislike Rushdie's writing style, there were some quirks that weren't quite to my taste. One in particular was the tendency for incredibly long sentences. Some ran on for a page or more - while lyrical, it strains your focus and I found it difficult to concentrate.

What did enchant me about this book, however, was the narrative voice. The imagery and metaphor used throughout painted some truly fantastical images in my head. I'd never quite understood the term 'magical realism' until finishing this, but I feel secure in saying that Rushdie is a master of the genre: he frames magic and all of its trappings in a way I've never quite encountered before.

Leaving aside the slow delivery and Rushdie's distinctive writing style, there was a story I liked at the heart of this book. I just didn't particularly like the package it came in. I felt occasional bursts of attachment to the characters, particularly Mr Geronimo and Jimmy Kapoor, as well as being enthralled by the lunacy of Teresa Saca, who emerged quite unexpectedly as my favourite character. I just wasn't emotionally attached enough to be sufficiently moved by the ending. It's a shame, as I've never read anything by Salman Rushdie and expected to love this book.

I want to read this again at some point, to see if my tastes have changed. I hope they will, as I desperately wanted to like this more than I did.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending the BookBag a copy to review.

We have enjoyed Rushdie's autobiography Joseph Anton and the book which won the 1981 Booker Prize - Midnight's Children.

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Buy Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie at Amazon.com.

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