Books, Learning, Memes, Reviews

Book Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The featured book in this post – Haroun and the Sea of Stories – is simply stunning. This was my first Rushdie read.

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The Book Review

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Book Info

Title: Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Author: Salman Rushdie
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy/Multicultural
Age-Range: 7 – 10 years (and above)
Source: My personal library

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Discover Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie’s classic fantasy novel

Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Salman Rushdie’s classic children’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as The Lord of the RingsThe Alchemist, and The Wizard of Oz. In this captivating work of fantasy from the author of Midnight’s Children and The Enchantress of Florence, Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.  

My Thoughts

This is one book that should be in both the children’s and adults’ sections in libraries and bookstores.

[Note: circa 2011] I read some sections of it to my son last year –  he loved it and we reread it again sometime back. I wrote most of this review at that time but added some more comments after reading it all over again with my son.

[Note: May 2020 update] The book is one I know I can read many more times, and I did many times again. Another time I reviewed this book was here – Journey with me to the Sea of Stories

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a magical, wonderful book by Salman Rushdie. Reading this book was like seeing a beautiful sunset – as the colors change, your mind is filled with awe and joy at the most simple and at the same time, the grandest beauty you can see. You see the sunset everyday and each time its magic reaches you and delights you anew. I found the same magic in this book. Rushdie’s use of Hindi in the book for place names and character names and references to real life places and characters in this fantasy book are both perfect.

It is a story of magic, heroes, satire, hope, laughs, sad truths all in one and everyone who reads the book is left with something wonderful when they finally (if at all) put it down. Rushdie tells the story of story-telling/a story-teller here – of the power of the written word. As Haroun journeys to Kahani to help restore his father’s story-telling powers, he has wonderful adventures and meets delightful characters each of which are unforgettable even after you put down the book.

This goes towards my South Asian Challenge [2011]

In Summary

This books needs a place on your bookshelves…on every bookshelf..

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Image shows the book cover of Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. Cover has a boy and another character riding on a bird-like creature and they are surrounded by various fanciful creatures

Everything Else

Wondrous Words

Kathy over at Bermudaonion’s Weblog hosts Wondrous Words Wednesday.
If you come across a word (or two) while reading that is new to you and would like to share your new knowledge, then hop over to Kathy’s place and link up!

Today’s words are from ‘Cutting for Stone’ (again!)

hu·bris n. excessive pride or self-confidence.
Usage in the book:
My hubris was to think I understood America from such movies. But the real hubris I could see now was America’s and it was hubris of scale.

sub·sume v. [trans.] (often be subsumed) include or absorb (something) in something else: most of these phenomena can be subsumed under two broad categories.
Usage in the book:
Superorganism. A biologist coined that word for our giant African ant colonies, claiming that consciousness and intelligence resided not in the individual ant but in the collective ant mind. The trail of red taillights stretching to the horizon as day broke around us made me think of that term. Order and purpose must reside somewhere other than within each vehicle. That morning I heard the hum, the respiration, of the superorganism. It’s a sound I believe that only the new immigrant hears, but not for long. By the time I learned to say “Six-inch number seven on rye with Swiss hold the lettuce,” the sound, too, was gone. It became part of what the mind would label silence. You were now subsumed into the superorganism.

And now, the End of this Post

Dear reader, have you read this book? Or any other book by Rushdie? What is your favorite? What about children’s fantasies similar to this book? Any personal recommendations for those?

13 thoughts on “Book Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

  1. I am somewhat intimidated to try Rushdie's writing and that just might be the book for me to try.

    I feel smart because I actually knew hubris. I know I've heard subsume before but I couldn't define it.

  2. You've read two very interesting books there. Both of which are on my TBR, but I've managed neither. Good to hear that you liked Haroun so much (and your son did too- how great to experience Rushdie at a young age!)

  3. @LouiseThanks! I have not been able to read any other books of Rushdie and picked this up quite by accident from the library and got really lucky that both I and my son could read and enjoy it. The sequel to this book 'Luka and the Fire of Life' is good too though I love this one way better..

  4. Hi,

    I too, have never read any Salman Rushdie books, however I do agree, that from the synopsis, it would seem that an adult would have no trouble at all in reading and enjoying this book.

    I know of the word subsume, but hubris was new to me. I was amazed that the word could be used so many times in such a short passage and am unsure that I would ever have been able to guess the definition of the word without looking it up. It is not a very attractive word really, is it?


  5. Salman Rushdie's first few novels for grown-ups gave friends from India much to explain to me, but weren't really anybody's favorite novels. "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" is a gem…the one of this writer's books that I've bought and kept handy for The Nephews to discover.

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