Book Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie

Title: Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Author: Salman Rushdie
ISBN: 9780140157376
Pages: 224
Release Date: September 27, 1990
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

Rashid Khalifa is a famed storyteller, known for his ability to create magical stories.  However, after his wife left him, he lost his touch and can no longer spin these wonderful tales.  As he tells his son Haroun, the stream of stories that supplies his imagination has gone dry.  Haroun, determined to find the stream of stories and restore it to his father, embarks on a fantastical quest to save Rashid’s storytelling abilities.

Review:

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a wondrous fable that centers on the young boy, Haroun.  Desperate to save his father’s livelihood, he embarks on his quest and finds himself whisked away to Kahani, where the ocean of stories actually exists.  However, Haroun discovers that there are bigger problems than the cessation of his father’s subscription to the stream of stories.  The ocean of stories has been polluted, and it’s up to Haroun to save it.

Through this small book, the reader gets a wonderful introduction to the magical realism that characterizes most of Salman Rushdie’s more complex novels.  Because this is a simple fable, it’s a perfect way to become acquainted with Rushdie without becoming overwhelmed by his complicated and layered narratives.  Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a simple, straightforward book, but is characteristic of Rushdie’s other works.  If you’re looking to read Rushdie but don’t know where to start, this book is the perfect place to do so.

Rushdie creates a magical world for Haroun (and the reader) to get lost in.  Through this world, though, he relates such important themes as the importance of fiction and the power it has over its readers, the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, and how creativity and imagination cannot be stifled, no matter how hard people try to smother it.  If you have room for the light and want to let it in, it will find a way to shine through, no matter how much others may try to block it.  Rushdie cloaks these ideas in such a fantastical and enjoyable narrative that it’s pure joy to read between the lines to discover the messages he is trying to deliver.

I cannot covey how delightful of a read this little novel is.  From beginning to end, it is a sweet and fun.  Haroun is an appealing and bright main character who really captures the reader’s heart.  Rushdie also plays with language in this book, showing how whimsical he can be.  In fact, whimsical is the perfect word to describe this literary adventure.  It’s such an adorable story, and what’s more, it can easily be read in one sitting.  Readers will find themselves laughing out loud as they embark on the journey that is this book.

I can’t recommend Haroun and the Sea of Stories highly enough.  I’m only sad it took me this long to read it.  It’s such a unique, imaginative read and showcases the author’s talent in an easy-to-read book, which is very rare for Salman Rushdie.  It’s also a book that can be read over and over again; though it is a simple book, there are many layers and themes, and there is much to discover within its pages.  This is a wonderful little piece of literary fiction that I highly encourage people to pick up and read.  Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Comments

  1. You really do love Salman Rushdie. I’ve tried reading him once and it just didn’t work for me. I might try a short story collection though.

    • destiny says:

      Haroun and the sea of stories was a dreadfully dumb book. i tried to read it and i was like ”GAH” at the middle of the book. Really poor quality writing by salman rushdie.

  2. You really do love Salman Rushdie. I’ve tried reading him once and it just didn’t work for me. I might try a short story collection though.

  3. Also, I like the fact that this book is simple unlike his other complex work. The fact that it is only 224 pages makes me want to try this novel.

  4. Also, I like the fact that this book is simple unlike his other complex work. The fact that it is only 224 pages makes me want to try this novel.

  5. A nice, short Rushdie? What a surprise! This sounds quite lovely; I’ll have to check it out. Would you consider this suitable for the young ones, or is more fablistic than anything else?

  6. A nice, short Rushdie? What a surprise! This sounds quite lovely; I’ll have to check it out. Would you consider this suitable for the young ones, or is more fablistic than anything else?

  7. Clare – I actually think it would be fantastic for a young one! The themes are simple enough and story is fun enough for kids, while there is enough depth for adults.

  8. Clare – I actually think it would be fantastic for a young one! The themes are simple enough and story is fun enough for kids, while there is enough depth for adults.

  9. I have had mixed success with Rushdie. I loved Midnight’s Children and thought it was a groundbreaking book. I had never read anything so luminous and beautiful, but I didn’t fare so well with The Satanic Verses. I tried that book three times and couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. It was just so dense and difficult, and I am not sure I understood much of it. This sounds different though, and like something that might ease me back into Rushdie’s work a little more gently. I want to give this book a try now, so thanks for your excellent review! By the way, I am going to be trying The Satanic Verses again, I just have to build up my fortitude a little bit!

  10. I have had mixed success with Rushdie. I loved Midnight’s Children and thought it was a groundbreaking book. I had never read anything so luminous and beautiful, but I didn’t fare so well with The Satanic Verses. I tried that book three times and couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. It was just so dense and difficult, and I am not sure I understood much of it. This sounds different though, and like something that might ease me back into Rushdie’s work a little more gently. I want to give this book a try now, so thanks for your excellent review! By the way, I am going to be trying The Satanic Verses again, I just have to build up my fortitude a little bit!

  11. I’m a little bit intimidated by Rushdie’s work, because I’ve always thought it was somewhat academic. You’re beginning to make me think I should try one of his books.

  12. I’m a little bit intimidated by Rushdie’s work, because I’ve always thought it was somewhat academic. You’re beginning to make me think I should try one of his books.

  13. What a fine review you’ve written. I read this when it first came out 20 years ago. I found it particularly poignant at that time, given that it was the author’s first book after the fatwah and dedicated to his son, from whom he was separated.

  14. What a fine review you’ve written. I read this when it first came out 20 years ago. I found it particularly poignant at that time, given that it was the author’s first book after the fatwah and dedicated to his son, from whom he was separated.

  15. If I am not wrong, Rushdie wrote one book for his son, and I think this is the one :o)
    Like Violet, I did try to read Rushdie, but could not get into his novels. But I think I might this one as less complex and simple.

  16. If I am not wrong, Rushdie wrote one book for his son, and I think this is the one :o)
    Like Violet, I did try to read Rushdie, but could not get into his novels. But I think I might this one as less complex and simple.

  17. I have been wanting to try Rushdie but haven’t known where to start. At your suggestion, I’ll go with this one.

  18. I have been wanting to try Rushdie but haven’t known where to start. At your suggestion, I’ll go with this one.

  19. I find Rushdie intimidating, but I’d really love to read him, so Haroun and the Sea of Stories sounds perfect! I like, too, that there is a sort-of sequel. It sounds like both Haroun and Luka (I just read your review of it) are about the same “level” of Rushdie and would make a great stepping stone into his heftier tomes!

  20. I find Rushdie intimidating, but I’d really love to read him, so Haroun and the Sea of Stories sounds perfect! I like, too, that there is a sort-of sequel. It sounds like both Haroun and Luka (I just read your review of it) are about the same “level” of Rushdie and would make a great stepping stone into his heftier tomes!

  21. Next on my list.. I have to read this one.. and I already know I’ll like it:)
    I am planning to re-read (or read for the first time) all of Rushdie’s books in 2011.. can’t wait to begin:)

  22. Next on my list.. I have to read this one.. and I already know I’ll like it:)
    I am planning to re-read (or read for the first time) all of Rushdie’s books in 2011.. can’t wait to begin:)

  23. I have become one of the most devoted fans of Rushdie. It happened last year when I opened up ‘Shalimar The Clown’ and ended up becoming fascinated. True, his writing is complex but if you manage to get used to his prose, you will end up loving the layers of depth that he will bring to his stories.
    ‘Haroun and The Sea Of Stories’ is one of the best books that Rushdie has written and It is in fact one of the best fantasy novels of all time as well. Believe me, I have gone through most of his key works and I have loved all of them- ‘Midnight’s Children’ was awesome and every bit worth the Best Of Booker prize and all that acclaim. ‘The Satanic Verses’ was slightly complex in the start but it soon emerged and evolved as an outstanding novel and as for ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ and ‘Shalimar The Clown’, they are nothing short of masterpieces.
    I would suggest everyone that they begin with ‘Haroun’ and then move on to other Rushdie writings. His writing is great but you need patience to understand it perfectly…

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