Saturday, October 9, 2010

The myth meister

The author weaves another engrossing yarn, all the while addressing some of his perennial concerns about human life and expression

Luka and the Fire of Life
Salman Rushdie
Jonathan Cape
Rs 915; Pp 216
Nearly two decades ago, Salman Rushdie wrote a novel while he was in hiding after Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa on him, over his novel, The Satanic Verses. That delightful novel was Haroun and the Sea of Stories, an in-your-face response, showing that he could not be silenced and he would not disappear into oblivion.

There, a little boy called Haroun travels to the source of all stories to restore the gift of gab, which his father, Rashid Khalifa, had lost. It dazzled readers, even as it had a particular poignancy and relevance—it was a stirring defence of free speech—of arguments, talkativeness, and verbal anarchy, against khatam-shud, or silence, the dark place where only one voice could speak. Rushdie had written that novel for his son Zafar, who was, to borrow a word Rushdie coined in Midnight’s Children, “nearlynine” at the time of the fatwa.

With Luka and the Fire of Life, Rushdie returns to the Khalifa family. Written for his second son, Milan, who is now 13, the story is about Haroun’s brother, Luka, who is determined to help his father. The Shah of Blah, as Rashid Khalifa is known, is back, but only just: He is ill; life is seeping out, and tubes sustain him by feeding him and people worry around him. Twelve-year-old Luka has to complete a hair-raising journey through the world of magic, and in a nod to the Promethean myth, he must bring the fire of life to the earth, to revive his father.

Full review here Mint

No comments:

Post a Comment