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SUMMARY Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found hereDiscover Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie’s classic fantasy novel  Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals Salman Rus. What s the use of stories that aren t even true I m not uite sure why I picked this up it s a children s book and my child was 21 last week perhaps I m hankering for times past but I m glad I did It has the powerful mythical feel of traditional fairy tales with plenty of nods to classics and a political undercurrent that tells of the time he wrote itIt would be perfect to read to a child of around 7 to 10 over a couple of weeks twelve eual chapters but as a solo adult I enjoyed the wistfulness of a childish read coupled with something much profound Before you startI vaguely knew this was dedicated to his son but didn t notice the actual dedication or consider the timeline However I wasn t far into the book before I felt compelled to check It was published the year after the fatwa that sent Rushdie into hiding though he d long since split from his wife His son Zafar was 10 or 11 In that context the dedication is heartbreakingZembla Zenda XanaduAll our dream worlds may come trueFairy lands are fearsome tooAs I wander far from viewRead and bring me home to youI also wish I d noticed the pages at the back that explain the names of many of the characters most of which are derived from Hindustani sicStoryThe key message is the power and importance of stories even if or particularly because they are not true You see the link to the fatwa Haroun is the son of a great storyteller who loses the power of storytelling The story is a uest to turn on the storywater tap It is set in an other world with a child as the hero If this were an adult novel it would be classed as magic realism It has an old fashioned and Indian feel but also features robotic birds and passing mention of aliens UFOs and moons I won t summarise the plot but it has all the elements you want and expect from a book like this fantastical creatures enigmatic lyrical characters juxtaposed with logical prosaic ones dashes of humour a maze of corridors mistaken identity occasional puns and Malapropisms pussy collar jee psychology love betrayal impossible dilemma princess rescue disorientation lucid dreaming a battle time dilation derring do funny names telepathy wishes a baddie who explains his plan to the captured hero magic a gadget complete with arbitrary timeoutFree speech Je suis HarounThis is about the fun of stories and the importance of believing even what you can t see but it s not just about that There is a clear message about the right to speak The arch enemy of all stories is also the arch enemy of language itself to the extent his followers have their lips stitched up What could be a powerful symbol of censorship that the Sign of the Zipped Lips Is not the Power of Speech the greatest Power of all Then surely it must be exercised to the full Not forgetting this is a children s book the example is a general who accepts insults and insubordination The risk to those in power is that inside every single story there lies a world that I cannot RuleBut the importance of free speech doesn t mean one should always speak unthinkingly Haroun realises that Silence has its own grace and beauty just as speech can be graceless and ugly Actions could be as noble as words As in so many things we need discernment One of the problems Haroun encounters is the deliberate poisoning of the storywaters by dark forces You can put an ecological spin on that but it s not the main messageEven a non baddie has had some stories changed to make him the hero Who owns our heritage Can we rewrite itThe magic of the story can restore spiritsNote Although this was written in the aftermath of the fatwa it s an issue Rushdie covered less obviously in his earlier novel Midnight s ChildrenLiterary linksThese ones I spotted there may well be others It s only now I collate them that I realise uite how many I found I may be guilty of over analysing Douglas Adams People always trust Rashid the storyteller because he always admitted that everything he told them was completely untrue Unlike the politicians who want him to speak at their rallies This logical inversion is slightly like Wonko the Sane from So Long and Thanks for All the Fish There is also P2C2E a Process Too Complicated To Explain which summoned H2G2 to mind Graham Green On discovering his mother had left Haroun s reaction was the rather tangential destruction of his clock I was reminded of a short story called A Shocking Accident in which a boy on learning his father was killed by a falling pig asks what happened to the pig The Beatles There are eggheads and a character called Walrus but I didn t spot the carpenter Tolkien The Floating Gardeners look rather like amphibious ents Kafka The Plentimaw Fishes are described as Hunger Artists they swallow stories and then create new stories in their digestive systems See A Hunger Artist The Shadow Warrior s first spluttered utterances are Googogol and Kafkafka Gogol I ve not read Gogol but he gets a mention alongside Kafka above Shakespeare A boy page is actually a girl in disguise Lewis Carroll The pages dressed like pages rather than playing cards and associated trumpets brought Wonderland to mind as did the logical illogicality of organisations One character asks Haroun Why make a fuss about this particular impossible thing The Red ueen famously believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast Jonathan Swift The antagonism between the Guppees and Chupwalas has echoes of that between the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos Mary Tourtel et al The Plentimaw Fishes talk in rhyming couplets like the captions underneath each picture in Rupert Bear stories Philip Pullman In the dark world shadows can be separated from their owners rather like Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon Monty Python or JM Barrie A knight fighting his own shadow made me think of the dark knight in The Holy Grail but given that he s not fighting his shadow I suppose Peter Pan is the obvious connection One Thousand and One Nights There s a houseboat called Arabian Nights Plus One Aladdin The Water Genie has a magic wrench which Haroun takes so the genie follows him round helping him out trying to get it back Joseph Conrad The evil one sits at the heart of darkness I might be trying too hard with that one it s a common enough phrase The Duchess of York aka Sarah Ferguson Pollution of the storywaters includes an outbreak of talking helicopter anecdotes and Budgie the Little Helicopter was published the year before this uotes The sad city that had forgotten its name stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue The Ocean of the Streams of Story because the stories were held here in fluid form they retained the ability to change to become new versions of themselves to join up with other stories so that unlike a library of books it was not dead but alive The Floating Gardeners do maintenance Untwisting twisted story streams Also unlooping same Weeding They re also like hairdressers because the longer stories are the likely they are to be tangled Pouring out of the portholes came darkness they had invented artificial darkness Shades of the satrical Dark Sucker Theory


Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Children and The Enchantress of Florence Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories On the way he encounters many foes all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers ?. there is something about a story written for an adult audience as myth or child s tale that i love it seems to be concise concentrated and make the simplicity of good vs bad and having a moral seem beautiful rather than simplistic maybe that is because dualities were pristine as a child rushdie s earlier works never captured me midnite s children seem windy and ornate with insufficient structure to hold up the explainations haroun is still written with all the mastery that rushdie shows as a writer but this compression as a children s tale turns coal into a diamond also in rushdie s post haroun work he seems to be working with a greater sense of direction and structure a great example of this for me was ground beneath her feet while once again wordy in my opinion ground hung together as great art while not well read enough to consider myself a rushdie scholar i suspect that haroun is the pivotal career changing work of one of our age s most notable writers so beyond being a great book i think that it is an important book importantly though it s fucking fun

Salman Rushdie ¹ 1 SUMMARY

Hdie's classic children's novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as The Lord of the Rings The Alchemist and The Wizard of Oz In this captivating work of fantasy from the author of Midnight’s. Writers are not easy people to live with Dickens Henry Miller Naipaul the list is long But when you read a book like Haroun and the Sea of Stories you find yourself wishing there was a writer in the family Imagine a book written exclusively for you a poem dedicated to you centuries later people wondering Who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets who was LucyFanny Browne so onRushdie had dedicated his Midnight s Children to his first born Zafar he wanted another book written for him as well Just like thatA father s love for his son gave us this magical allegory A little boy called Haroun embarks upon an adventure of a lifetime so he could retrieve his storyteller father Rashid Khalifa The Shah of Blah s inspiration as the latter lost it after a tragic personal setback His adventure takes him to the earth s second moon called Kahani story where he must meet The Walrus in the City of Gup gossip reuest him not to disconnect his father s water supply from the Ocean of the Streams of Story But the Gup City is facing imminent war from the City of Chup silence ruled by the ruthless Cultmaster Khattam Shud completely finished the end under whose Cult of Dumbnessthe schools and law courts and theatres are all closed nowbecause of the Silence LawsHow art imitates life Upon this breezy comic tale hangs the dark clouds of Rushdie s fatwa years when the writer was shifting from place to place under assumed identities constantly under death threat for his earlier book Satanic Verses indeed uestioning himself What s the use of stories that are not even trueIsn t it a triumph of a writer s imagination freedom of expression that from such a bleak phase emerged such a life affirming art affirming work And the fact that this heart warming tale comes from the innocent perspective of a child who dares to say the emperor wears no clothes makes it leave a lasting impression I somehow kept thinking of the Bicycle Thieves a father son duo desperately trying to salvagecling to some vestige of humanity that the cruel bleakness of a post war world denies them Haroun and the doesn t have the neo realism of Vittorio De Sica s movie but don t let that magic realism fool you to the dark subtextRushdie thus has managed the contradictions very wellDoffing his hat at Arabian Nights with a nod to The Wizard of Oz a wink to Alice in Wonderland Rushdie sprinkles his tale with magic dust imbuing even a cynical adult like me with child like wonder joy Happily recommended The names of most characters places in this book are all based on a clever wordplay on speech and silence taken from Hindi Urdu languages A glossary at the end clears the concept for users of other languages but they ll still somehow miss the sheer fun of itHere is a review that I loved

10 thoughts on “Haroun and the Sea of Stories

  1. says:

    What's the use of stories that aren't even true? I'm not uite sure why I picked this up it's a children's book and my child was 21 last week p

  2. says:

    What's the use of stories that aren't even true?This is a classified as a children's bookperfect to read to an 8 10 year old Yetnow

  3. says:

    Hurrah for diverse books before I say another word I loved how this book drew on PakistaniMuslim stories and imagery and I enjoyed

  4. says:

    The Satanic Verses bent my brain funny I thought Rushdie had some good prose the ideas were interesting but the surrealism combined with moments of silliness made for an odd mix and in the end I left satisfied but disoriented like I'd eaten an exotic mealHaroun and the Sea of Stories was Rushdie's attempt to write a children's book

  5. says:

    I'm surprised that Viking listed this as a children's literature There's nothing risue in it of course and it is structured a little like Alice in Wonderland but I think it will appeal to both children and adults with its playful style and malleable language There are a lot of puns rhymes and plentiful wordplay

  6. says:

    Writers are not easy people to live with Dickens Henry Miller Naipaul the list is long But when you read a book

  7. says:

    Great kid's story my son loved it I thought that the language was clever and creative and enjoyed the pace The characters

  8. says:

    there is something about a story written for an adult audience as myth or child's tale that i love it seems to be concise concentrated and make

  9. says:

    Salman Rushdie blew my mind with his magnum opus Midnight’s Children I’ve been an ardent fan of him since I first read it last year Then I read the allegedly blasphemous The Satanic Verses which turned out to be uite a good book thought it was at first a tumultuous experience I waited with bated breath for his memoir Joseph Anton which I unsurprisingly devoured And with Haroun Rushdie has blown my mind again Rushdie wrote Haroun for

  10. says:

    Read at my girl's behest in I think 500BCE A delight of a tale Rushdie wrote the 2019 Booker shortlister uichotte which I disliked as much as I liked this book I wonder if the audience focus of the two accounts for the disparity of response?