Shalimar the Clown

Shalimar the Clown

A Novel

Book - 2005
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Shalimar the Clownis a masterpiece from one of our greatest writers, a dazzling novel that brings together the fiercest passions of the heart and the gravest conflicts of our time into an astonishingly powerful, all-encompassing story. Max Ophuls' memorablelife ends violently in Los Angeles in 1993 when he is murdered by his Muslim driver Noman Sher Noman, also known as Shalimar the Clown. At first the crime seems to be politically motivated -- Ophuls was previously ambassador to India, and later US counterterrorism chief -- but it is much more. Ophuls is a giant, an architect of the modern world: a Resistance hero and best-selling author, brilliant economist and clandestine US intelligence official. But it is as Ambassador to India that the seeds of his demise are planted, thanks to another of his great roles -- irresistible lover. Visiting the Kashmiri village of Pachigam, Ophuls lures an impossibly beautiful dancer, the ambitious (and willing) Boonyi Kaul, away from her husband, and installs her as his mistress in Delhi. But their affair cannot be kept secret, and when Boonyi returns home, disgraced and obese, it seems that all she has waiting for her is the inevitable revenge of her husband: Noman Sher Noman, Shalimar the Clown. He was an acrobat and tightrope walker in their village's traditional theatrical troupe; but soon Shalimar is trained as a militant in Kashmir's increasingly brutal insurrection, and eventually becomes a terrorist with a global remit and a deeply personal mission of vengeance. With sweeping brilliance, Salman Rushdie portrays fanatical mullahs as fully as documentary filmmakers, rural headmen as completely as British spies; he describes villages that compete to make the most splendid feasts, the mentality behind martial law, and the celebrity of Los Angeles policemen, all with the same genius. But the main story is only part of the story. In this stunningly rich book everything is connected, and everyone is a part of everyone else.Shalimar the Clownis a true work of the era of globalization, intricately mingling lives and countries, and finding unexpected and sometimes tragic connections between the seemingly disparate. The violent fate of Kashmir recalls Strasbourg's experience in World War Two; Resistance heroism against the Nazis counterpoints Al-Qaeda's terror in Pakistan, North Africa and the Philippines. 1960s Pachigam is not so far from post-war London, or the Hollywood-driven present-day Los Angeles where Max's daughter by Boonyi, India Ophuls, beautiful, strong-willed, modern, waits, as vengeance plays itself out. A powerful love story, intensely political and historically informed,Shalimar the Clownis also profoundly human, an involving story of people's lives, desires and crises -- India Ophuls' desperate search for her real mother, for example; Max's wife's attempts to deal with his philandering -- as well as, in typical Rushdie fashion, a magical tale where the dead speak and the future can be foreseen. Shalimar the Clownis steeped in both the Hindu epicRamayanaand the great European novelists, melding the storytelling traditions of east and west into a magnificently fruitful blend -- and serves, itself, as a corrective to the destructive clashes of values it scorchingly depicts. Enthralling, comic and amazingly abundant, it will no doubt come to be seen as one of the key books of our time. The second portent came on the morning of the murder, when Shalimar the driver approached Max Ophuls at breakfast, handed him his schedule card for the day, and gave in his notice. The ambassador's drivers tended to be short-term appointees, inclined to move on to new adventures in pornography or hairdressing, and Max was
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2005.
ISBN: 9780676977547
0676977545
Branch Call Number: RUS
Characteristics: 398 p.

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WVMLStaffPicks Jan 19, 2015

A very timely novel about terrorism and the ongoing struggle between India and Pakistan for control of Kashmir. Shalimar is typical Rushdie: a novel that exists as a political thriller, folk tale, wartime adventure, slapstick comedy, and tale of romance. In a post 9/11 world Rushdie is able to see the horrors of extremism and religious conflict, however, his stories are always told with a decidedly humorous and cleverly satiric touch.

s
Samauribrarian
Sep 30, 2013

One of my top ten books of all time. Amazing story told through incredible mastery of language. An epic global tale that takes place in part in India & LA. A great first Rushdie if you've been wanting to read any of his tomes!

m
mvincelli
Mar 07, 2010

Not yet read.

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