Give this man three cheers. Forced to immure himself within a cave because of some bozos in a dress for over two decades, Salman Rushdie is the man to beat. What’s essentially striking abut Rushdie’s folio is the seamless blending of magic and realism. Leaning a bit more towards the magical side of things, decidedly so in this case, is Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The book is about a kid whose father is a master storyteller, from whose lips issues a veritable font of myths, sagas, stories, apocrypha and anecdotes. The father puts this to good use, becoming one of the finest storytellers in the land. The land itself is amorphous, though from the Indo-Iranian clues spilled throughout we can hazard a guess as to the region. As if the name in the title isn’t a dead giveaway. The father’s fount dries up one day, and the son goes to the sea of the stories to unplug the source of his father’s confabulations. In a fitting parallel to our time, the sea is fed by a vast hole of clean myths that is being blocked by the Engineers of Silence. Once they seal the subterranean source, the world’s stories will dry up and eternal silence will reign.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Rushdie’s line of attack, a thinly veiled allegory against the ruling muppets in Iran. Silencing storytellers, banning laughter, eternal silence and censorship descending on the land, why, it all seems oddly familiar. The book itself is entertaining, and although written seemingly for children, has realistic portrayals of what life would be like if we lived under Islamic/Christian/Hindu/Jewish/$religion fundamentalists. Read it, and enjoy the fairytale ending, one that we wish would befall the beleaguered people of Iran.