Favorite Books #6
I tend to love almost anything by Salman Rushdie. Considering the feminist slant to most of my work, you wouldn't think an author like Rushdie, who is generally considered a misogynist, would be a favorite of mine. As Madelaine Horn states in an essay discussing his attitude, Rushdie has "a problematic rapport with women and with feminism in general." But genius is genius and as a writer, his use of myth and language enthralls me.
Originally, I planned to write about Midnight's Children, which won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker, but most readers know that book. That and his fatwa-earning The Satanic Verses. But in my opinion, an equally worthy read is The Moor's Last Sigh.
His beautiful intertwining of present story and myth begin on the very first page with: "'Amrika' and 'Moskva', somebody once called them, Aurora my mother and Uma my love, nicknaming them for the two great super-powers." His dizzying description of how his sisters came upon their nicknames will amuse and confound the reader. Rushdie has a rhythm of his own. Like listening to Shakespeare, you become hypnotized by the cadence. It may be an acquired taste. You may need to be in the mood for his parenthetical, wry, alliterative, repetitive tone. He will take you on a ride with spice moguls, artists and criminals. You may need to go back and read a passage again. You may need to read slowly. But take the time to drink it in. The Moor's Last Sigh is a sweeping saga across decades of Indian history, however idealized or demonized the female characters seem to be.