Note: I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Summary via NetGalley.com.
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.
I picked up this book only because I have heard great things about Salman Rushdie, but I haven never read his work because I’ve also heard that he is hard to get into. He’s into magical realism, which I am not, and this book in particular happens to be a retelling of the 1,001 nights/Scheherazade myth, sort of? which is another thing I’m not super into. Still, I picked it up because it was available on NetGalley and I thought I should probably acquaint myself with this author. And? It was all right.
The writing is undeniably good. Rushdie is great at creating unique characters and weaving in humor even among dark or tragic events. The plot itself is well constructed, if you’re into myth retellings (which, again, I am not). The jinn which invade our world and turn it upside down are as childish and vengeful as you would imagine, and they have copious amounts of sex (which, although these sexual acts are not described in detail, keep me from ever describing this book as “clean”). And probably the best part is the descendants of Dunia, the part-jinn humans who have the power to float above the ground, kill people with lightning, or cause the corrupt to literally break out in hives. I wish more of the book had focused on these people, rather than spending so much time with the jinni.
I can’t honestly give an accurate rating for this book. Even though I can tell the plot and characters were well written, the story is just so far out of my wheelhouse and the kinds of books I typically enjoy that I can’t come to a conclusion on whether or not I liked it. If the summary sounds interesting, pick it up and find out for yourself.
Rating: Not My Cup of Tea