You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a fanciful fairy tale in the tradition of L. Frank Baum or Lewis Carroll. Rushdie uses wordplay and inventive allegory to create a fun fantasy world.

Haroun is the son of Rashid, a storyteller with a fantastic gift in a sad city that has forgotten its name. When Rashid's wife leaves him for a neighbor, he loses his gift of gab. He and Haroun travel to a town near Dull Lake to make a speech at a political rally. But the night before, Haroun discovers a water genie who has come to turn off the story tap that gives Rashid his gift. Haroun steals the genie's magic tool and uses it to bargain for a chance to talk to the Walrus, the head of water genies, to convince him to give his father's storytelling gift back.

What follows is a strange voyage to a secret moon Kahani where one side is always in daylight and the other is always in night. The people of Gup City on the light side are too busy to talk to Haroun since they are about march to war against the land of Chup. Whereas the people of Gup love to talk and tell stories, the people of Chup of are under an order of silence from their leader the Cultmaster. What's more, the Chups are poisoning the Ocean of the Streams of Story by creating anti-stories, and soon the stories will all disappear. Haroun's father shows up and together they must help to save the moon Kahani, while changing it forever.

This book is inventive and a delight to read. Rushdie uses an array of wordplay and imagination. The people of Chup are always in shadow, and their shadows have broken away to try to be independent. The names are derived from Hindustani words, so that Kahani means story, and gup means gossip. Haroun is a determined boy, a classic instance of fairy tale children. The magical journey is something right out of Arabian Nights. Rushdie's style is amusing and light, and the story is fun to read. B+

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