The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses Cover

The Satanic Verses


I read The Satanic Verses solely because of the controversy it aroused, the Islamic fatwa against its author Salman Rushdie. I'm sure I never would have heard of it otherwise. It has won some literary acclaim; it must be worthwhile.

This is a strange book, not an easy read. Rushdie has a lot to say; unfortunately, I don't know what he's talking about. The prose is serious and lighthearted and comical and pointed and completely nonsensical. Maybe if I weren't so ignorant of eastern religions - Hinduism and Islam primarily - I might have been able to make better sense of this, but alas... I have no idea what it was that he wrote that earned him the fatwa.

This book falls into a category of literature for which I know no name. Other books in this category include James Joyce's Ulysses, Toni Morrison's Beloved, and William S Burroughs' Naked Lunch. These books, along with The Satanic Verses, are not similar and they have nothing to do with one another, but they all could be in this unnamed category. I've read the term nonlinear narrative applied to some, or at least to one, of them and also some, or parts of some, could be said to be 'stream of consciousness'. The Satanic Verses surely is a nonlinear narrative; I can't say for sure whether or not it's stream of consciousness. There ought to be a word for these types of books.

My reading of this book was interrupted for a few days, and when my library loan expired, I returned it. I had read more than three fourths of it, but I felt uncompelled to finish it. Somehow I don't think it would have all come together in the end.