This is a complex story to review. First of all Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight-Nights is another way to say 1001 Nights. Now that I have cleared that up, it should be no surprise that this book includes the Arabic mythological Jinn. I am conflicted on how to rate this, but let me attempt to tell you about it so maybe can decide for yourself.
Published by Random House Publishing Group on September 8th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Fairy Tales, Literary, Magical Realism
provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
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.
Dunia, the princess of the Jinns, wasn’t like other Jinns. Scorned by her father for not being a boy, she sought love in the arms of a human. Her man was non other than the 12th-century philosopher Ibn Rushd, (who was a real person). Dunia bore him many children. Although he refused to marry her and claim those children, she loved him. One day he left her, and she faded back into her world. Many years later, her children’s children are scattered to ends of the earth. All at once these descendants discover their Jinn powers. Dunia’s descendants will play a critical role in defending the world we know from the Dark Jinn that want to conquer it.
This story is written entirely in scholarly narrative. That is exactly the sort of the thing you find in textbooks, except in this book we are learning the history and actions of fantastical Jinns and their powers. Once I got used to the narrative, I found myself really thinking about this book. I struggled with the reading of this. I put it down a few times with the intention to abandon this, but then I found myself really wondered about what happened next. All I can figure is that the author, Salman Rushdie, used some kind of magic making it impossible to walk away from this tale.
The author weaves metaphors and symbolism into this story. This story is magic realism, but I would liken it to fantasy as well. There are so many fantastical aspects of the characters and their Jinn powers. There is also a lot of word play in this story. The author uses very long sentences. It was hard to follow this train of thought.
The Koreans at the corner store were professionally cordial, though lately, as a younger generation took over from its parents, he was sometimes received with blank stares that revealed the ignorance of youth, instead of the faint smiles and small acknowledging nods with which the bespectacled elders had greeted a longtime customer.
That was one sentence, people. There are ways to get this point across by making it two sentences. The other issue was the tone, which is like 3rd person philosophy, (if that is even a thing, if not this author invented it)
We follow quite a few characters in this story. It is hard to narrow my focus for this review. For example; Mr. Geronimo, a gardener, who finds himself unable to touch his feet down on the earth. He floats inches above ground, and he is the first sign of the strangeness that is coming. It would be difficult to talk about any character without mentioning their history. I don’t know much about the mythological jinn, and I am afraid this book does not help to clarify them either, (except that they have lots of sex and they have lots of children).
In the end, I felt that the struggle to read this wasn’t just me. I feel like this would be a good book to read along with someone, so that a discussion could occur about the details. There is much history given for each character, and in my haste to read, I am sure I glazed over a few things that other readers might cling to. I think my favorite aspect of this story, other than the histories, was the Epilogue which gave me a happy place to escape to after the struggles.
I am not sure how other readers will receive the story. It is excellent and also terribly flawed in its delivery. I am glad I got a chance to read this author. I would definitely pick something up from this author again.