Review: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty‑Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Ursula K Le Guin in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_1354 Sep. 04 17.24A “colossal fragmentation of reality” occurred in the 20th century, Salman Rushdie has said, and his novels enact and display that fragmentation with terror and glee. His new book assures us that reality has lately been crumbling more colossally than ever, and is about to come completely unglued. The climate destabilisation we are experiencing is only a foretaste of advancing chaos, which the author describes with considerable relish. Eschatological lightning strikes, oracular infants and local failures of gravity will become the norm, as the Dark Ifrits, the mischievous forces of disorder, begin to take advantage of the weakening of the fabric of the everyday.

The cumbrous title transcribes a certain number of days into years and months, but not the four weeks that would naturally complete it, because the word “Nights” is needed to suggest the original Thousand and One. Rushdie is our Scheherazade, inexhaustibly enfolding story within story and unfolding tale after tale with such irrepressible delight that it comes as a shock to remember that, like her, he has lived the life of a storyteller in immediate peril. Scheherazade told her 1,001 tales to put off a stupid, cruel threat of death; Rushdie found himself under similar threat for telling an unwelcome tale. So far, like her, he has succeeded in escaping. May he continue to do so.

At the idea of trying to summarise the plot, I shriek and fall back fainting on my seraglio couch. Rushdie has a fractal imagination: plot buds from plot, endlessly. There are at least 1,001 stories and substories, and nearly as many characters. All you need to know is that they’re mostly highly entertaining, amusing and ingenious.

More here.