Haroun and The Sea of Stories [Salman Rushdie]


Salman Rushdie (1990)
Puffin
Softcover, 1993
Children Fiction
0-14-036650-4
TGA Sency – IDR 114,000

The worse thing happened to the greatest of all storytellers: Haroun’s father, Rashid Khalifa, has lost his ability to tell stories. This is khattam-shud! That’s the only thing Rashid was good at. All the mess started with the elopement of Soraya, Haroun’s mother, with Mr Sengupta, their neighbour. The Khalifas’ house used to be a good and cheerful home, even though they lived in a a sad city, so sad that it has forgotten its name. The sadness has now crept into their windows.

It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue. (Page 15, Para 1)

Haroun blamed himself for his father’s trouble. When his father was heartbroken, Haroun said something which made him shattered in despair. Haroun himself is also at trouble. His mother left at exactly 11 o’clock and now everything Haroun does cannot go beyond 11 minutes. At exactly 11 minutes, he would lost his concentration. Haroun is determined to fix things up and bring back his father’s storytelling gift. For this, he has to find the source of all  stories: The great Story Sea which produces the warm Story Waters.

The great Story Sea is located faraway from Earth. To go there, Haroun must travel on the back of Hoopoe bird accompanied by a water genie called Iff, on a fast speed journey, to visit the Gup City on Kahani moon. With the travel begins Haroun’s exciting and thrilling adventure to help his father and to understand the world of storytelling.

‘It’s amazing what you can get accustomed to, and at what speed,’ Haroun reflected. ‘This new world, these new friends: I’ve just arrived, and already none of it seems very strange at all.’ (Page 87, Para 3)

Written as a children fiction and dedicated to his son, Zafar, this novel strongly feels as an allegory to Mr Rushdie’s feeling as if he’s trying to explain something to his son; about his work, his passion for writings, about what happened to him and why he needed to disappear. At the same time, he’s persuading everyone who reads the book to love stories, to appreciate literature. If I am not mistaken, this is the first book he wrote after “Satanic Verses”, a controversial book which drew death threats and fatwa to him.

From the very beginning, from the title itself, the novel has a 1001 night feel on it. It makes me feel like reading Narnia-kind of adventure on Alladin-kind of settings. It’s a brillian book with many playful but complimenting references to other works such as song lyrics, films, folktake even languages. Read here to learn more.

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