Sunday 4 September 2011

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie - Book Review

Title: Luka and the Fire of Life
Author: Salman Rushdie
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: 20th September 2011
Pages: 160
Format: E-Book PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

With the same dazzling imagination and love of language that have made Salman Rushdie one of the great storytellers of our time, Luka and the Fire of Life revisits the magic-infused, intricate world he first brought to life in the modern classic Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This breathtaking new novel centers on Luka, Haroun’s younger brother, who must save his father from certain doom.

For Rashid Khalifa, the legendary storyteller of Kahani, has fallen into deep sleep from which no one can wake him. To keep his father from slipping away entirely, Luka must travel to the Magic World and steal the ever-burning Fire of Life. Thus begins a quest replete with unlikely creatures, strange alliances, and seemingly insurmountable challenges as Luka and an assortment of enchanted companions race through peril after peril, pass through the land of the Badly Behaved Gods, and reach the Fire itself, where Luka’s fate, and that of his father, will be decided.

Filled with mischievous wordplay and delving into themes as universal as the power of filial love and the meaning of mortality, Luka and the Fire of Life is a book of wonders for all ages. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Let me say first off that I am not usually a fan of Rushdie's writing. I found Midnight's Children dull and for a while I put off reading anything else of his. Finally I picked up Satanic Verses. I enjoyed this one more, but was still not completely convinced. When I saw this book come up on NetGalley, I figured I'd give him one last chance.

I think it must be a case of third-time-lucky, as I really enjoyed this book. The story is deceptively simple on the surface, like a fairytale adventure, but has some deep meanings underneath with commentary on the idea of the father-son relationship and the idea of mortality and what it means.

I have a great interest in mythology and so I loved the way ideas from many different cultures were weaved into the plot. Language (another fascination of mine) also plays a big role in this piece through riddles and the power of names.

Luka is a likeable hero and he assembles a wonderfully assorted crew of helpers along the way as he tries to complete his quest. The dialogue is witty and quick and the prose flows nicely, making this an easy, relaxing read compared to some of Rushdie's other writing.

If you have not yet tried any of Rushdie's books, I would recommend this one as a good starting point. It will also appeal to lovers of mythology and fairytales.

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