Two years eight months and twenty-eight nights A novel

Salman Rushdie

Book - 2015

"From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding novel that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush modern fairytale in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling"--

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Subjects
Genres
Fantasy fiction
Romance fiction
Published
New York : Random House [2015]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
290 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780812998917
081299891X
Main Author
Salman Rushdie (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* The jinn, Rushdie tells us, are "creatures made of smokeless fire," shape-shifters infused with powers that defy our experience of gravity and time. They live in their own world, yet they can't resist meddling in our affairs. But the Lightning Princess is different. For all her fearsome "mastery over the thunderbolt," she falls in love with a mortal in the twelfth century, a Spanish Arab philosopher whose books, the most famous of which is The Incoherence of the Incoherence, are banned and burned because he argues for rationalism instead of religious fundamentalism. This "man of reason" is Ibn Rushd, the very thinker Rushdie's father honored when he invented a new, more modern family. Now this historic figure serves as the guiding light for his namesake's latest rambunctious, satirical, and bewitching metaphysical fable, perhaps his most thoroughly enjoyable to date. At once a scholar, rigorous observer, and lavishly imaginative novelist, Rushdie channels his well-informed despair over the brutality and absurdity of human life into works of fantasy, where the dream of righteous justice and transcendent liberty can flourish. His thirteenth work of fiction begins with the fateful liaison between the lovely jinn and the old philosopher, which, thanks to Dunia's supernatural fertility, produces the first generation of an undetected tribe of descendants who look and feel human but who lack earlobes and possess secret jinn powers. Rushdie leaps forward 1,000 years from now, when future chroniclers look back to our fraught, accelerating epoch to tell a tale of "the time of strangenesses, which lasted for two years, eight months and twenty-eight days, which is to say, one thousand nights and one night more." With this enchanting declaration, Rushdie adds a new link to the long narrative chain that connects us to that most marvelous and life-saving of storytellers, Scheherazade, who risked her life to put an end to a king's murderous rampage by telling him 1,001 beguiling tales. Brave and brilliant Scheherazade has inspired countless writers through the ages. Rushdie acknowledged his debt in earlier works, including The Moor's Last Sigh (1996), and homage is also found in Naguib Mahfouz's Arabian Nights and Days (1995), Vikram Chandra's Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995), Martin Amis' The Pregnant Widow (2010), Rabih Alameddine's The Hakawati (2008), Nelida Pinon's Voices of the Desert (2009), and John Barth's Chimera (1972) and The Book of Ten Nights and a Night (2004), which takes place directly after September 11, 2001. The long spell of "strangenesses" is precipitated by an apocalyptic storm that devastates New York City. In its aftermath, a hardworking gardener, an earlobe-less "Indian from India" known as Mr. Geronimo, finds that his feet "no longer touched the ground." Meanwhile, in Queens, a wormhole opens between the worlds of the jinn and humans in the bedroom of Jimmy Kapoor, a young wannabe graphic novelist. Many more manifestations of the wondrous, weird, and inexplicable occur as a war of the worlds begins, stoked from beyond by none other than Ibn Rushd, still loved by Dunia, and his real-life archrival, the religious thinker Ghazali, who, in Rushdie's fabulist scenario, is aligned with the most terrifying jinn of them all. Philosophy, like religion, can be dangerous. Rushdie is having wickedly wise fun here. Every character has a keenly hilarious backstory, and the action (flying carpets and urns, gigantic attacking serpents, lightning strikes, to-the-death combat, sex) surges from drastic and pulse-raising to exuberantly madcap, magical, and genuinely emotional. Rushdie scatters intriguing allusions (Beckett, Magritte, Gogol, Obama) about like fairy dust and coins of the realm while sustaining swiftly flowing, incisive, piercingly funny commentary on everything from religious extremists to reality TV, anti-Semitism and racism, and economic injustice. Rushdie muses over kismet and our perpetual bewilderment about the harsh realities of life, made worse by war and global warming. He even offers a wry glimpse into the future to conclude this fantastically inventive, spirited, astute, and delectable update of One Thousand and One Nights. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Centuries ago, a princess of wild and wanton Fairyland fell in love with a mortal man who espoused rationality, and their descendants have set off a battle between light and dark, reason and hidebound conviction, that will last two years eight months and 28 nights—that is, 1001 nights. Thus does Booker Prize-winning Rushdie use magical fairy-tale style to challenge the notion that fairy-tale thinking should prevail. [Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

What if today's violence and political instability could be blamed on jinnis? That is the premise of this latest novel from Rushdie (The Enchantress of Florence). Here, the War of the Two Worlds is a proxy war between dark and light jinnis and also a war between religious fundamentalism and reason, with roots going back to 12th-century Spain and the dusty corpses of two philosophers, Ghazali and Ibn Rushd. Ghazali, having rescued a powerful jinn named Zumurrud Shah from a bottle, used one of his wishes to send Zumurrud to wreak havoc on Earth. In contrast, Rushd was a man of reason, as well as a lover of the jinnia Dunia and the forefather of the Duniazát, a tribe of human-jinni hybrids birthed by Dunia, who has a weakness for humanity. The hybrids are unaware of their jinn heritage, and with the dark jinn deploying events such as war, terrorism, and global climate change as weapons, it is up to Dunia to activate the jinn in her descendants so they can fight Zumurrud and his friends (imagine drunken jinni frat boys run amok on Earth). VERDICT Most readers will overlook Rushdie's not-so-subtle scolding in this rollicking magical realist adventure, which is fast paced and accessible. It can be enjoyed as a fairy-tale adventure, literary fiction, or a political allegory for our times. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/15.]—Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. Lib., MD [Page 89]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In his latest novel, Rushdie (Joseph Anton) invents his own cultural narrative—one that blends elements of One Thousand and One Nights, Homeric epics, and sci-fi and action/adventure comic books. The title is a reference to the magical stretch of time that unites the book's three periods, which are actually millennia apart. In the first period (the 12th century), jinn princess Dunia falls in love with real-life philosopher and advocate of reason and science Averroes (aka Ibn Rushd) and bears multiple children. In the second period (current day), Dunia's descendants, a group including a gardener and a young graphic novelist, are unaware of their powerful lineage (despite the fact that they inherited Dunia's trademark earlobelessness). Then they witness a great storm devastating New York; worse, a slit between the jinn world and the human world opens and the dark jinn slip through. The gardener suddenly finds himself levitating, the artist hosting jinn in his room. Dunia returns to defend the human race by confronting her four fiercest enemies, one by one: Zumurrud, Zabardast, Shining Ruby, and Ra'im Blood-Drinker. Rushdie even incorporates a third period, a far-future millennium, further tying his story together across time. His magical realism celebrates the power of metaphor, while both historic accounts and fables are imbued with familiar themes of migration and separation, reason and faith, repression and freedom. Referencing Henry James, Mel Brooks, Mickey Mouse, Gracian, Bravo TV, and Aristotle, among others, Rushdie provides readers with an intellectual treasure chest cleverly disguised as a comic pop-culture apocalyptic caprice. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding novel that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush modern fairytale in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Once upon a time, in a world just like ours, there came "the time of the strangenesses." Reason receded and the loudest, most illiberal voices reigned. A simple gardener began to levitate, and a powerful djinn -- also known as the Princess of Fairyland -- raised an army composed entirely of her semi-magical great-great-great-grandchildren. A baby was born with the ability to see corruption in the faces of others. The ghosts of two philosophers, long dead, began arguing once more. And a battle for the kingdom of Fairyland was waged throughout our world for 1,001 nights -- or, to be more precise, for two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a masterful, playfully enchanting meditation on the power of love and the importance of rationality, replete with flying carpets and dynastic intrigue"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A modern fairy tale by the award-winning author of Midnight's Children is set in a world of religious dominance where mystical acts and supernatural abilities shape a war over control of Fairyland.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

When the line between the worlds is breached, a war between light and dark is started in which the children of a jinn and a mortal man will play an epic role.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason,Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub–Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights—or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.Inspired by the traditional “wonder tales” of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world.Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.Advance praise for Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights“In his latest novel, [Salman] Rushdie invents his own cultural narrative—one that blends elements ofOne Thousand and One Nights, Homeric epics, and sci-fi and action/adventure comic books. . . . Referencing Henry James, Mel Brooks, Mickey Mouse, Gracian, Bravo TV, and Aristotle, among others, Rushdie provides readers with an intellectual treasure chest cleverly disguised as a comic pop-culture apocalyptic caprice.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)Praise for Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence“A romance of beauty and power from Italy to India . . . so delightful an homage to Renaissance magic and wonder.”—Michael Dirda,The Washington Post Book World“This is ‘history’ jubilantly mixed with postmodernist magic realism.”—Joyce Carol Oates,The New York Review of Books“A baroque whirlwind of a narrative . . . [Rushdie helps] us escape from the present into a dreamlike past that ultimately makes us more aware of the dangers and illusions of our everyday lives.”—Alan Cheuse,Chicago Tribune“Brilliant . . . Rushdie’s sumptuous mixture of history and fable is magnificent.”—Ursula K. Le Guin,The Guardian (London)