Salman Rushdie is an author whose work I have longed to read. But like most people, I let life get in the way and kept putting it off. He has always intrigued me ever since a Fatwa was issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini over 25 years ago. Since the renewal of my New York City library card, I’ve been on what one would call a “literary bender.” The full-blown madness to read books I’ve longed to discover is finally being realized.
I decided to start with Mr. Rushdie’s latest work, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, a story rich in the fantastical and the exploration of the Other. The book speaks of the jinn, humanity, war, love and the way they are all connected. The novel begins centuries ago, when the love between a clueless philosopher and a jinnia princess in disguise comes to fruition. The lovers, who impossibly become parents to many children, are separated, never to see one another again. Fast forward to what could be present day where we meet descendants of the two lovers. The children of the jinnia princess and her lover are ordinary, run-of-the-mill types, save for the fact that they have no earlobes. It isn’t until a violent storm shakes the world and releases the time known as the “strangenesses.” As the story unfolds, the descendants’ powers begin to reveal themselves and the war between humanity and the jinn begins.
As I continued to read this absolutely enchanting book, I realized what it was about the story that had me mesmerized: that there were stories within stories within the story itself. Stories of silence, graphic novel heroes, jealous lovers and lotharios brought down low. Stories of fear, courage, supernatural forces and, of course, loves that transcend time and space.
There were times while reading Mr. Rushdie’s work when I felt we were already in the time of the strangenesses. Many of the events that took place in the novel are true today, making this reader wonder if she’ll one day wake up with her feet floating a couple of inches from the floor.
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights can be read in one sitting, which I strongly encourage you to do. I wish I had, as the novel was hard to put down once I started reading. I may give myself another chance to read it during Thanksgiving week, just to sit in one place and let Mr. Rushdie’s words envelop me fully. One note of caution: when you get to the very last page of the book, really try to comprehend what is written and imagine what life would be like if those words ever came true. I found them to be a bit unnerving and was thankful that they were just words and not real life. Yet.