What it’s about: In the twelfth century, a female jinn (a jinnia) called Dunia fell in love with a philosopher and bore many children, whose descendants were part-jinn, part-human. A thousand years later, the slits between Earth and the world of the jinn reopened, sparking a battle between the dark jinn (the ifrit) and Dunia and her children. It was also a battle of philosophies, between reason and faith. Spoiler alert: Reason wins.
Why I liked it (and a few reasons I didn’t): Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, this new novel by Rushdie is the first of his that I have read. There was a lot to enjoy in it. Rushdie’s writing is often very funny, and his philosophical ideas are intriguing. I was particularly intrigued by the future he envisions, a golden age of reason and equality; this story is actually being narrated by humans living one thousand years from now, in which time these events have become legendary as they were the beginning of this age of reason. I wish he had spent more time developing the philosophy. I’m not sure if this novel is typical of Rushdie’s style, but that was the biggest problem for me. His prose is purposefully circuitous and repetitive, in a manner of oral storytelling, but for me it lacked focus and full development of his ideas. This was a tantalizing book that was almost, but not quite, great.
You might like it if: You enjoy magical realism, mythology, and books inspired by other books.