Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie

In Shalimar The Clown, Rushdie takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the countries of India, Pakistan, modern-day L.A., wartime France, England and Austria and the emotional countries of love, betrayal, passion, jealousy, revenge and retribution.  It is a compelling book that takes over the lives of its readers as they burrow further and further into the tale.

In the beautiful province of Kashmir, a couple falls in love.  Shalimar is the star of the local acrobatic troupe, a clown who can walk the tightrope as if he were walking on air.  His young love and then wife, Boonyi, was the most beautiful and talented dancer.  Although Shalimar was Muslim and Boonyi Hindu, they fell in love and were protected by the villagers, who refused to let religion separate friendships and love. 

Into this idyllic relationship, as always, trouble arrived.  In this case, it happened when Boonyi danced for the American Ambassador, a charming, charismatic man named Max Ophuls.  Their subsequent affair laid into place events that would play out over the next decades.

Salman Rushdie is one of the premier novelists of our time, and I have never been less than mesmerized with any of his books.  His characterizations are so detailed that one feels they know every character.  Each, no matter how small a part they play in the story, are given intricate backgrounds that explain their motivations.  Rushdie's ability to use these characters to explore the age-old themes such as love, jealousy, betrayal, political movements, the movement of nations from one state to another, is unparalleled.  This book is recommended for any reader interested in a great read that will keep them enthralled from start to finish.

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