"Life is fury, he'd thought. Fury-sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal-drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths."
Salman Rushdie enjoys the rare status of being a celebrity author who is acclaimed, feted, and known even by those who don't read. "Midnight's Children," still his best book by a Bombay mile, is ranked as one of the greatest, most influential novels of the past three decades. He was also married to a beautiful model/TV host (there's a 10/90 %) to whom this book is dedicated. Yet, in this novel from 2001, none of that seems enough. It is Rushdie's America novel and, while I'm no knee-jerk patriot, there is something irritating about an author moving to a country that has embraced him and proceeding to tell us everything that's wrong with American culture. He does so in the most crude and obvious way, comparing America to Imperial Rome and castigating our noise, shallowness, pop culture, and celebrities, whose names he has no problem dropping in such a way that would make Brent Easton Ellis blush. Remember, this an author who hangs out with Bono. It's a singularly acrid and unpleasant book that takes the worst aspects of Bellow and Roth and magnifies them into something that is caricature without humor and satire without insight. A shameful performance from a once great writer.
"It is one thing to write an allegory or an apologia about how America has compromised one's soul, but it is quite another to publish a novel that so emphatically re-enacts that compromise."-James Wood, The New Yorker
In Rushdie's books, you see that he really understands how the world works. He predicts 9/11 in this one, and in the novel that spawned his fatwa, there is a character named Salman who changes the words of Mohammed and is condemned for it.
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