Michiko Kakutani on Rushdie’s New Novel

Kakutani reviews Shalimar the Clown in the New York Times:

Rushdie184In his most powerful novels, Salman Rushdie has dexterously spun his characters’ surreal experiences into resonant historical allegories. “Midnight’s Children” (1981) transformed its hero’s tortured coming of age into a parable about India’s own journey into independence. “The Moor’s Last Sigh” (1995) used the dramatic reversals of fortune sustained by one eccentric family as a kind of metaphor for India’s recent ups and downs. And in recounting the interlinked stories of two powerful men, “Shame” (1983) became a sort of modern-day fairy tale about a country that was “not quite Pakistan.”

Mr. Rushdie’s latest book, “Shalimar the Clown,” aspires to turn the story of a toxic love triangle into a fable about the fate of Kashmir and the worldwide proliferation of terrorism. But this time, the author’s allegory-making machinery clanks and wheezes. Although the novel is considerably more substantial than his perfunctory 2001 book, “Fury,” it lacks the fecund narrative magic, ebullient language and intimate historical emotion found in “Midnight’s Children” and “The Moor’s Last Sigh.”

Worse, “Shalimar the Clown” is hobbled by Mr. Rushdie’s determination to graft huge political and cultural issues onto a flimsy soap opera plot – a narrative strategy that not only overwhelms his characters’ stories but also trivializes the larger issues the author is trying to address.

More here.