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Quichotte Hardcover – 3 September 2019
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- Publisher : Random House USA Inc (3 September 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 059313298X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593132982
- Dimensions : 16.26 x 2.54 x 24.13 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 663,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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One part I didn't like was the end and the little people who came out from a little hole. .it was a turn off.
I highly recommend this book and appreciate thoughts exchange.
Top reviews from other countries
It contains both novel and meta novel. The core story clearly has its origins in Cervantes, as Rushdie tells the story of an expatriate indian, Quichotte, living in America as he embarks on a journey across the continent with his imaginary son in search of his beloved, who has the self referential name of Salma R. The tale doesn't, however, restrict itself to Don Quixote, referencing everything from Ionesco to Disney's Pinocchio.
As Quichotte travels, his story is entwined with that of the author writing him. Through this device Rushdie explores the autobiographical elements of the writers craft as aspects of his real life (and one suspects also Rushdie's own) are reflected in his hero's struggles. Indeed Rushdie himself occasionally appears in the novel's shadows.
This meta level perhaps gives the book a slightly problematic note. In the story of Quichotte, the author makes extensive use of metaphor and magical realism. In the story of the author, Rushdie explains the meaning of such symbolism in pretty clumsy terms.
The real strength of the book is its enormous breadth and depth. It is book which is absolutely crammed with ideas. It is a book which probably needs to be held shut with heavy duty elastic bands to prevent the contents from escaping. The physical and emotional journeys of Quichotte and the Author enable them to explore aging, death, grieving, filial estrangement, parental abuse, parental love, climate change, the expatriate experience, the asian experience in post 911 America, celebrity culture, increasing political xenophobia, the silicon valley culture, and on and on and on.
The exploration of racism is handled cleverly. Quichotte and Sancho experience a form of stereotypical redneck xenophobia, being driven out of successive towns, accused of being Islamic terrorists. When a similar thing happens to the Author and son, there is a more hopeful picture of the hatred being more isolated, with the general public being more decent. This seems to be a call to pay less attention to sensationalism, and more to the essential decency of ordinary people.
At the heart of it all, it helps that Rushdie is a beautiful writer, and this book is peppered with sentences so stunningly well constructed that I felt myself stopped in my tracks, smiling at the audacity.
That audacity stretches to genre busting. I have often thought of magical realism as the literary cousin of fantasy and even sci-fi. Here Rushdie joyfully tramples over any such artificial distinction and gleefully mixes an exploration of the author's relationship with his creation with a a Sci Fi story akin to Baxter and Pratchett's Long Earth books. (Although Rushdie himself credits Arthur C Clarke.)
Another possible criticism is one that might be applied to Rushdie's entire body of work, that this is all just too clever for its own good, but after a short consideration I decided that I don't care, this is just such a huge, ambitious, intelligent entertainment that I lost myself in the sheer enjoyment of reading it.
Quichotte is a unique book in every sense of the word. It's a modern take on Don Quixote, a novel-within-a novel where the main plot and the subplots, the main characters and the secondary ones intersect and reflect each other in an endless cycle of similarities.
The text is dense and took me a rather long time to sort everything together, but the reading experience as a whole is more than fulfilling and well worthwhile. I also loved all the pop culture references and even the rather fantastical elements outstretching reality.
This is a thought provoking look on modern day American from the lens of an ordinary observant. Highly recommended.
Thanks Netgalley, Random House, and author Salman Rushdie for a chance to review this epic of a book.