Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights
In his latest book, Salman Rushdie brings two worlds to war – only one world exists purely in our minds.
Normal has no place in Salman Rushdie’s world. Normal is regular. Normal is ordinary. Maybe that’s why after few years of writing about his normal life in the shape of a memoir, he came back with such a fantasy story which will haunt its readers many days after they put down their book to rest.
Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights (Rushdie way of describing 1001 nights) draws a lot of inspiration from fantasy books written in the medieval times. Ever dreamed of flying carpets, bottled jinnis and beautiful paris after reading Hamzanama or Arabian Nights? Well, add Rushdie’s twelfth novel to the list of your fantasy-generating club as he sketches a web of stories and a plethora of characters with extraordinary powers and beliefs.
It’s a vision into a future of chaos and reason, but draws its strength from history and philosophy -- and imagination -- which argue, squabble and debate over everything from God to humans, superstition to reality, physical desire to love. Rushdie’s Asmaan Peri or Dunia is a jinni but unlike her other counterparts she does not desire only sex (though that figures on top of the list of her priorities). She wants more. She wants love, she wants to experience emotions, she wants to be human. And as the trysts of destiny and travesties of life – which we humans so passionately want to avoid – fascinate her so often, she comes to Earth and falls in love with one Ibn Rushd (from whom Rushdie gets his surname) to copulate and produce a lineage inadvertently weird and conspicuously earlobes-less. This Duniazat, named after the Asmaan Peri as Ibn Rushd refused to give his name to his illegitimate children, play a pivotal role when the slit between the worlds is opened during a furious storm centuries after the death of their philosopher father.
Rushdie makes it a point to keep reminding his readers that humans are not alone in this universe. There are worlds beyond our world and once in a while creatures from those places come to our land to plant their seeds which eventually may either grow into a magnanimous tree or some itchy weed. But what happens when these trees and weeds meet their creators, their gardeners? Will they crush the land they grew up on or stand up to the catastrophe faced by their human counterparts?
If you have never read a Salman Rushdie book before, this is the right one to start with. Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights is funny the Rushdie way, but much less convoluted unlike his earlier works.
Though the book is not devoid of many historical, racial, social and political innuendos, these can easily be avoided by readers who just want to enjoy the story, its flow in time and, of course, Rushdie’s smart language and writing style. Here again, the Bombay-loving author has given very warm encounter with city which no more exists. The Mumbai of today is not the Bombay Rushdie knew, and this I guess will continue to haunt him, and his readers, in all his future works as well. The character of the gardener, Mr Geronimo whose feet all of a sudden stop touching ground, somewhere reflect the idea that Rushdie can’t come back to his home again as his home isn’t the same anymore.