Fury by Salman Rushdie

 Professor Malik Solanka, a man in his mid fifties, scholar and dollmaker extraordinaire, is having a rather belated mid life crisis. “Fury”, which he sees around him, in the rage of destruction, or the fire of creation, overwhelms him suddenly, when he leaves his wife and three year old son in London. He travels to New York, to resolve his existentialist dilemma, but gets entangled in the “fury” of the city, and the people he meets there, in the dawn of the new millennium.

 

Rushdie’s world is chaotic as ever, his penchant for sarcasm undiminished. There’s also the arbitrary, even whimsical, emerging from time to time. Who would name a character Krzysztof Waterford-Wajda, and mention Kieszlowski in the same book? It seems Rushdie had been into Polish directors at the time of writing the book (Krzysztof Kieslowski and Andrjez Wajda. two of Poland’s most famous directors ). 

There are perhaps echoes of his own life in the Solanka character, how he befriends and falls in love with head turning beauty Neela Mahendra in NY.  For a while, it is not difficult to put Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi in their shoes. 

 

Things seem to be coming together well in the Rushdie world, the angst of the disenchanted professor, the lunacy of modern living – personification of fury itself, love, incest, sexual obsession, even a little of fashionable anti Americanism here and there. But things really begin to tumble when Rushdie jumps into hyperspace, with Solanka’s venture into the Internet (remember, this book was written around the time of the Internet bubble, talk of cashing in) – with his sci fi dolls and the world of Akasz Kronos, Baburia and what have you. The latter half of the book, as we quickly enter the political crisis in Lilliput-Blefuscu via the imagined life of space age puppets, thus deteriorates into mindless prattle. It is a huge letdown.

 

There’s no question of Rushdie’s intellect, but when great minds wander, it is not difficult to foresee that illusions of grandeur persist in all. A disgruntled reader begins to question: To whose benefit is the writing, so devoid of the possibilities of social satire or poignant introspection with which it begins, but the kitsch waste into which it eventually degenerates? The outcome is thus the loss of trust between the reader and writer, originating not only from the question of whether the reader has been wasting his precious time behind the book, but whether the writer has been wasting his, disguising something fickle in a seemingly profound package. Whatever the answer, it is certainly not a win-win.

4 thoughts on “Fury by Salman Rushdie

  1. Meena Vathyam

    Interesting review…for some reason I’ve kept away from Rushdie’s books…borrowed Shame from library but could not go beyond page 1.

    Fury …Could be a case of writer grappling with times and having nothing profound to say …it happens ;)

    BTW, Like ur blog very much :)

    Reply
  2. mystic wanderer Post author

    Thanks Meena, I appreciate your …well, appreciation :-)

    Rushdie’s style has a really mixed following, you either hate it or love it. Shame was a much better novel though, in my opinion, and I liked reading it.

    Reply
  3. Runil Wazlib

    Salman Rushdie Rocks!

    I started with ‘The Satanic Verses’ and now have read 6 of his books…in three months. You’re right mystic- it’s either love or hate-I fell for his style.

    I think that the main thing Salman Rushdie’s stories signify is the non-linearity of life. He mentions it in several of his books that his stories are like ‘fragments of broken glass’ and I agree. He is reflecting life in that- life is never ‘two comes after one and before three’- it just moves along, without bothering on how things should be; and that, is how Rushdie’s (Oops! Sir Salman’s…) are. Moving from here to here without apparent cause and yet for a reason.

    Of course, I fully agree with Meena. When you get a book to read, you have some expectations, or as some people put it, ‘preconceived notions’. When you read the first page and your expectations do not match the reality, there is a conflict ;/. Now, that conflict is the reason why many, many people, tens of my friends included and myself too, don’t go beyond the first page.

    And by the way, with Mr. Rushdie, the sentences are extremely long and complicated, direct speech is completely absent, the amount of information presented and the ironies can be understood only after a lot of research, and at times, the book are boring. And yet soo…lovable.

    BTW, mystic wanderer, may I please intrude upon your privacy by asking you where you get the time to write so many thing???

    Also, could you please read ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ and give your views on it?
    A suggestion, the blog would be much more interesting that it already is if you gave ‘your’ views and comments on the books in addition to ‘reviewing’ them. Simply put: your use of passive voice is disconnecting you from us: the writing is very good but sounds more like an academic paper rather than a review which you want people to read.

    Cheers!
    Runil from Neverland

    Reply
  4. mystic wanderer Post author

    Thanks Runil for taking the time to write about Rushdie, and also for your suggestion. You are better read in Rushdie than me. ;-)

    >>BTW, mystic wanderer, may I please intrude upon your privacy by asking you where you get the time to write so many thing???

    To be honest, I don’t get enough of it. But I don’t post that frequently either, so it works out.

    >>.Also, could you please read ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ and give your views on it?

    That is actually something I have planned to read in the near future. So your request comes at an opportune moment, though it might still be a while before I’m able to write something on it. I recently finished Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger, nominated for this year’s booker. Excellent writing.

    Reply

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