Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights

Volume 13, Issue 1  | 
Published 21/07/2016

Author: Salman Rushdie
Publ: Penguin Randon House LLC, New York
Reviewer: Alexander Khamala Opicho
Salman Rushdie’s latest novel again causes protest in the Muslim world

In his characteristic style of literary telekinesis, Salman Rushdie again causes protest in the Muslim world on release of his latest novel Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days. The book which is written in an approach of assumed dialogic relationship between religion and reason, here religion meaning Islam, Rushdie shrewdly combines fairy tales and facts to mirror deficiency of realism in religion as placed against secular intellectual pragmatism. The book which has as a sub-title A thousand and one nights, a sum total of the nights to be obtained from the period expressed in the main title, uses allegory to feature the rationalist philosopher by the name Ibn Rushd who lived in the 12th century in the then Arab Spain and his vintage confrontation with the Islamic idealist thinker Ghazali of Iran. The primary lesson in the book is that there is struggle between religious faith and secular reason as expressed through a series of diverse characters which include the real in form of people and the super-real in form of gods and spirits. The German paper, Deutsch Welle, has noted about this book that it is either Rushdie’s intellectual response to the Charlie Hebdo attack or Rushdie’s version of Arabian Nights.

The book which is supposed to be popularized next week in Germany at the Frankfurt book fair by Rushdie himself has already sparked fierce protests from the Muslim world. Going by the revelations of diverse online sources, the protest are organized by the minister of culture in Iran, who has already rallied support of the Muslim countries against Rushdie and his new book.

Why is Rushdie controversial? As a person Rushdie is a soft-spoken person, currently living in New York under the tormenting experience of Fatwa, a death sentence that was declared against him by the Iranian leadership in the last century for his novel Satanic Verses. He was substantially inspired by the late Gunter Grass.It is the Tin Drum, a magical realist book by Gunter Grass that inspired him to write the Satanic Verses. He was a friend of the late South African writer Nadine Gordimer, the late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez and now he is a friend to Yan Martel the author of Life of Mr Pi. Rushdie is only violent as a writer in that he often affects an intended telekinesis via a literary militancy of rare audacity perfected through his unique mastery of the English language. The late Ali Mazrui, in his seminal work, Cultural Forces behind World Politics, argues that Salman Rushdie as a Muslim and a native of the oriental world only proves intellectually controversial through his tendency to commit cultural suicide. Mazrui based this argument on the fact that, Rushdie is a Muslim who wanted to kill Islam through his book Satanic Verses; he is a subject of imperialism who adores the western culture of capitalism through his two books; Midnight’s Children and Jaguar Smile. The latter book is a scathing attack on the Rafsanjani’s Islamic-Socialist revolution in Iran. Mazrui also points out that Rushdie is not pro-African, in the respect that Rushdie has openly been sarcastic in a literary sense by deliberately misreading The Roots by Alex Haley, as  a historical and a  literary  blue-print confirming Africa to have sacrificed itself into  slavery. Rushdie has never seen European imperial powers to be blame-worthy anywhere in the game of world slavery.

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