***SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019***
In a tour-de-force that is a modern masterpiece about the quest for love and family, Booker Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author Salman Rushdie has created a dazzling Don Quixote for the modern age.
Inspired by the Cervantes classic, Sam DuChamp, mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates Quichotte, a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television, who falls in impossible love with the TV star Salman R. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where 'Anything-Can-Happen'. Meanwhile his creator, in a midlife crisis, has equally urgent challenges of his own.
Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirise the culture of his time, Rushdie takes the reader on a wild ride through a country on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse, with the kind of storytelling magic that is the hallmark of his work. The fully realised lives of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine in a profoundly human quest for love and a wickedly entertaining portrait of an age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.
Rushdie's rambunctious latest (following The Golden House) hurtles through surreal time and space with the author's retooled Don Quixote on a quest for love and redemption in an unloving and irredeemable U.S.A. In this story within a story, Sam DuChamp, author of spy thrillers and father of a missing son, creates Quichotte, an elegant but deluded, TV-obsessed pharma salesman who strikes out cross-country with the son he's dreamed into existence, to kneel at the feet of an actress by the name of Miss Salma R. Quichotte and son Sancho brave Rushdie's tragicomic, terrifying version of America, a Trumpland full of bigots, opioids, and violence. They experience weird, end-of-time events people turn into mastodons, rips appear in the atmosphere but also talking crickets and blue fairies offering something like hope. Allowing the wild adventure to overwhelm oneself is half the fun. Rushdie's extravagant fiction is the lie that tells the truth, and, hilariously, it's not lost on the reader that he shares this Falstaffian and duplicitous notion with none other than Trump (who is never named). Rushdie's uproarious comedy, which talks to itself while packing a good deal of historical and political freight, is a brilliant rendition of the cheesy, sleazy, scary pandemonium of life in modern times.
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Impossible dream V2.0
British of Indian extraction. Muslim by birth but long term atheist. Rose to prominence when his second novel Midnight’s Children (1981) won the Booker prize. It was named the best ever Booker winner at both the 25th and the 40th anniversaries of the prize. Slew of other awards as well—no, make that a giga-slew—culminating in Knighthood for services to literature 2007. Best known for the prolonged period he spent in hiding, and the several assassination attempts he survived, following the 1989 fatwa pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran in response to his 4th novel The Satanic Verses (1988). And if that weren’t enough excitement, Rushdie’s had four wives too!
His early work was set in the Indian subcontinent, but has become more global in nature since then. Among the doyens of magic realism, but writes in other styles as well. Quichotte (pronounced key-shot), his 13th novel, is shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize.
An ageing Indian-American sales rep for Big Pharma roams the Land of the Free in a quest to win the heart, or something, of his ideal woman: a Bollywood-goes-to-Hollywood movie star who now has her own TV talk show. Her name is Salma R (seriously).
To assist him in his quest, this modern day Don Quixote (Quichotte is the French spelling of Quixote) enlists the help of an imaginary son named, what else, Sancho. But wait, there’s more. This is metafiction. An Indian-American author of less than stellar crime fiction is actually writing the story and expects it will bring him long overdue fame and fortune. So we get his story too, which unfolds in alternating (more or less) chapters with that of his creation: the starry-eyed promoter of prescription opioids.
Supporting cast of thousands, as is Mr Rushdie’s wont. Some are real, many more are caricatures of real people. Literary allusions abound.
Pastiche of satirical vignettes layered on top of a Man-of-La-Mancha-type odyssey. The prose is in keeping with the author’s usual high standard. The satire is blisteringly good in parts. It starts out superbly well, but wall-to-wall cleverness wears you down after a while. It wore me down anyway.
I get it. Salman Rushdie is widely read and very clever, but with so many contemporary issues in play all at once, I wasn’t sure what point he was seeking to make. Maybe that was the point.
QUICHOTTE - Read It
Read it... read it.
Thank you Mr Rushdie