I’ve never heard of Salman Rushdie before and I can’t really tell how I got to buy this book in the first place. I know for sure that the reviews written on the back of the book and the fact that Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death after writing it, really raised my curiosity to the maximum.
Salman Rushdie is an Indian novelist and essayist born in Bombay in 1947, but who lived for a long time in Great Britain and now lives in the US. Midnight’s Children, another successful novel of his, won the Booker Prize in 1981. He is very appreciated as a writer in the western culture, but rather blamed in India and the Muslims countries.
The Satanic Verses tells the story of two men who survive after an airplane explodes over the English Channel: Gibreel Farishta, a famous Bollywood actor, and Saladin Chamcha, an obscure voice actor who lives in London. From this point, the two characters suffer important transformations. Gibreel arrives to believe that he is the Archangel Gabriel and Saladin becomes a sort of a diabolical goat, that forces him to hide from the world.
In parallel with the stories of Gibreel and Saladin, Rushdie makes all sorts of ironical allusions to religion. In the imaginary city of Jahilla, Mahound, a business man turned into prophet is trying to convince the people that they have to believe in only one God. This is actually why the Muslim countries felt offended by the book and Iran sentenced him to death (sentence which was never put in place).
There were many critics that considered this book a huge blasphemy, but the fact is that they forgot that this pure literature and the facts described in it are pure fiction. It should not be considered an offense bought to religion or to God, but indeed it might be, that the most faithful people, could not digest this absolutely brilliant (a bit English, I would say) humor.
It’s just the simple story of two Indian men who try to fit in the western culture, to leave their indian habits and turn into real Englishmen.