Quichotte by Salman Rushdie is a modern age version of Don Quixote as I have heard and I haven't read Don Quixote but yes, it has been on my TBR for quite a while now. But I can tell you that you don't need to read it before reading Quichotte because this book is different in its own way and doesn't need references from Don Quixote.
The book starts with my favorite character 'Quichotte' who is on a quest to find his beloved one and who believed he had to pass through the seven valleys and give up the beliefs, knowledge, attachment and a lot more. His idea of love is out of ordinary and the way he talks and how he is engulfed in the world of television to not even able to make the difference between reality and fiction is just another day of his life.
In the beginning, the whole concept was so fascinating and surreal for me. I mean, you have a writer in a book writing about a fictional character. The fictional character is although real but he lives in a fictional world and his life is far from reality. It's basically fiction inside fiction but as the story unfolds it takes quite a few unexpected twists and turns and things started to unravel and as you read more and more, you'll become comfortable with this arrangement and conglomeration of fictitious and non-fictitious elements.
There were so many things happening in this world that it gets confusing and intimidating to follow it all and comprehend what is right or wrong? What is normal? Is there anything not plausible? The things were intertwined so much that you feel like you are falling down in an infinitely deep hole and it is consuming with every next line. I have to say this book needs your full attention otherwise you'll be lost just like a man in a maze just be a little patient while reading this book.
Every other character had a different personality and their stories bring a distinctive addition to the whole book. They are flawed, wicked, narcissist, selfless, confused and fascinating and they reflect the hypocrisy of society when it comes to money and fame and beauty. It's like Salman Rushdie has picked all the issues currently exists in our world and just put it all in the story.
The book talks about a little of a lot of things like family, love, hate, betrayal, drugs, racism, corruption, homophobia, end of the world, alternate reality and what not but most importantly it talks about the relationship. It destroys you when you don't have a normal family and when you had to experience death in your early years and had to suffer through abuse, you lose trust and become incredulous. You turn to other kinds of trusted sources which you know will never let you down, of course, it can't be a human being because they always break your trust. You cannot expect a human to be 100% loyal and you are bound to be disappointed or you are going to disappoint someone at some point in your life. It's inevitable.
It has talked more about the love of siblings than any other kind of love. How the stupid fights and the insensitive remarks can ruin the relationship and how tens of year can go in haste, deprived of each other's love and only to be left with the regret that they hope they had talked sooner and had forgiven. And this applies to every relationship, in general, where when we are so full of rage and anger that we can't foresee the long-lasting effect of it and how with time it becomes difficult to communicate our emotions and it becomes strange to even talk.
One thing I find unnecessary was the plethora of examples when comparing or referencing something, sometimes they were extended from 4-5 lines to even a page or two and it's not like you are familiar with every other pop culture or classic reference in the world which eventually becomes exhaustive to follow and most importantly they were not contributing significantly to the story. Other than that, it was all great, extraordinary and I loved every bit of it and not to mention, the ending just blew my mind away.
Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte is an account of a postmodern man standing at the brink of the collapse of civilization staring at his own reflection. The man is the author Sam DuChamp and his reflection is the character that he creates, Quichotte. So there is a story within the story. The primary narrative is that of Quichotte and his quest to win the love of a TV star. Travelling across America, Quichotte is accompanied by his imaginary son Sancho.
Through his characters, the author DuChamp has a face-off with the challenges of his own life. As Quichotte moves on in his quest, the boundaries between fact and fiction blur and the author’s own life is laid bare so that what Rushdie has presented here becomes not just a mere novel but also an account of the very process of writing this (meta-fictional) novel. In this sense, it does talk about the subjectivity of the writer and the way writers seek substitute gratification in their writing.
Quichotte is primarily a postmodern novel. There are a lot of references to the Pop culture. The theme of the loss of the real is predominant in the first half of the book. In the later part, Rushdie is more obsessed with the theme of death and the end of the world. Among others the themes of alienation, racism, cyber crime and drug abuse form an important part of the narrative.
Rushdie’s prose is a delight to read. He writes long sentences often spanning over a paragraph. Rushdie has also employed the famous Whitmanian catalogue technique so that often his sentences are long catalogues of several things. But these catalogues are not always fun to read. Further at times, ideas are force fed to the readers and did not seem to be congruent with the plot.
Despite all the intellectual stuff, there are also basic human emotions as explored through the background story of several characters, particularly the Brother-Sister duo. Quichotte’s quest through the seven valleys is actually a quest towards redemption.
I enjoyed this book for the greater part and I enjoyed the ending as well. But the plot has been certainly compromised. But that doesn’t stop me from recommending this book. Read it for what it is.
My Rating: **** (4/5)
*I was sent a copy by the Publisher, in exchange for a review. Views expressed are entirely personal and unbiased.*
Ismail Smile looses his job as a pharmaceutical salesman and with his imaginative teenage son Sancho, sets off across America, with the aspiration to be triumphant in winning the heart of a young TV star, Salma. Although they've never met. Ismail, a believer, believing that Love shall find a way, writes love letters to Salma under the pen name of " Quichotte". . .
On their journey across America, Ismail and Sancho unearth realities, situations, phenomena, matters that not only define present day America, but superjacent to the delimitation of borders, can be considered as a narrative of present day India and United Kingdom. . .
What's also unearthed is a story, inside their story, of Sam DuChamp, an Indian-American, just like them, living in America. A novelist, inking a story, their story, of their travels, their experiences, that's equivocated in the realms of time, for what's real and what's not, can no longer be distinguished. . . 'Some find Chaos in peace, some peace in Chaos. Some reality in magic, some magic in reality.' "Quichotte", it's ordinated chaos, where magic and realism melt into the ordinance of peace. . . Author: Salman Rushdie
Quichotte ~ Three things about this book. Chaotic, messy and confusing. Having never read any of Rushdie's book before, I didn't quite know what to expect. But having had the chance to speak to others about his books, I realised that Quichotte was not his usual style of writing. There were instances where I wanted to abandon it but I continued nevertheless. Quichotte isn't the kind of book you'd want to take on when you want a quick and easy read. I haven't read any of Don Quixote's work but after reading this I don't even want to attempt it. ~ Quichotte is the author's take on modern version of Don Quixote focusing mainly on the protagonist Ismail Smile who also calls himself Quichotte. Smile is a traveling salesman and a TV addict, having lived his entire life watching all kinds of TV shows. The old man is on a mission to profess his love to a famous telivision star, Salma R. Smile craves for a son and wishes upon many meteor showers, breaking wishing bones to find a teenager in monochrome appearing next to him. The kid has Smile's memory and works according to Smile's whims. But Smile is just a figment of an author's imagination. The author who calls himself Brother and Sam DuChamp, decides to write a book in search of glory and Smile is his protagonist. ~ I liked the initial 100 pages of the book but I soon felt that Rushdie tried to overdo his writing style. The book makes you think hard about what's real and what's not. Having a story within a story is not an easy task to achieve but if done correctly, can be spectacular. Too often I cringed at the author's painful efforts in involving complicated metaphors, subplots and never-ending story. I do however applaud his honesty as he managed to involve a bit of his sister in one of the characters, but the overall hype of the book somehow failed to please me. To say I had high expectations from this book would be an understatement. It is hard to sum up a review of a book of this magnitude especially when there are raving reviews about it circling around on social media. In the end I felt that the Rushdie tried too hard with this book. ~ Rating - 3/5.
(I Voluntarily reviewed a physical copy of the book on For The Love of Fictional Worlds)
I remember reading The Midnight’s Children without appreciating the nuances of the novel; i was after all, a kid when I read it – and though I have been meaning to re – read, life and other books always got in my way #lifeofbookworm :D
I do, however remembering appreciating the writing style of Salman Rushdie, the way he made the reader work for understanding what he exactly wrote. There was always a hidden meaning behind each and every twist and turn – yet that was enough for me to jump at the chance to review Quichotte.
Before, I proceed with my review, I have to expressly state, I haven’t read the classic “Don Quixote” so I went into the book, without any expectations or even hope for this adaption of the classic.
Ismail Smile is a television addict and is better versed in the happenings of the virtual world as compared to the real world – a situation all of us bookworms would definitely empathise with, for don’t we all spend our time immersed in the very fictional lives of our favourite characters, don’t we?
All the while Ismail fancies himself in love with Ms. Sophia, a character on TV; the character, not the actor; a distinction that is quite important; and writing a love letter to her under the name “Quichotte” – this leads him on a journey that is an experience in itself. Within the pages of Quichotte, you will find everything; and when I say everything, I do mean everything; all the issues plaguing our society, from racisim, to misogyny to bullying to political issues – you name it, and it will be within these pages.
Now, the author is known for his very well opinionated thoughts; and that waters down on to the pages of this adaptation as well - the plot, the opinions expressed are also loud, brash and more – in – your face than the subtlety I had been expecting from this book.
For a non – classical reader like yours truly; modern adaptations become a way to understand the basic plotlines of the original classic; but with Quichotte, the excessiveness within the plot, wasn’t something that I could reconcile myself with; so it just became a study to understand a classic in the modern setting, rather than trying to understand the nuances of the plotline.
This reads like a master class on the craft of writing. Rushdie keeps you engrossed in this crazy ride in his grip enthralling you with a heady mix of socio cultural commentary on various facets of contemporary culture, the politics of identity, roots and memory. There’s also the larger question of what is real and what is not in the times we live in today (sounds familiar?) which then asks you to look at what is fact and fiction. Rushdie's Quichotte, a modern look at Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote stays true to the themes of orthodoxy, veracity and nationalism. We have Ismail Smile, a travelling salesman ofIndian roots in the US who cannot make do without TV and reality shows. The pharma company he works for has a dubious history and there’s a young TV star called Salma whose heart Ismail hopes to capture. When Ismail loses his job, he is least perturbed for he has a mission: a journey with a teenage son he dreams up in the quest for Salma’s love. The writing will make you laugh and entertained, sometimes with over the top twisting of established facts in real life that become part of the fiction:like the way Salma’s family history puts in real life film star names with parts of their real lives doused in fictional delight. There are parts that make you laugh out loud at the way things play out in the narrative and where you smile gently when the author throws in a familiar bit of history and background stories of art, films and literature. There’s never a dull moment with this book, not when it straddles the outlandish and quiet contemplation with equal passion. This is worth a journey to take on!