Monday, July 9, 2007

Fury by Salman Rushdie

Title: Fury
Author: Salman Rushdie
ISBN: 0099443384
Publishers: Vintage/2002
Pages: 259

I received this book as a gift from my nephew as a birthday gift. I have read "The Satanic Verses" which is banned in India long time back and planning to read Midnight's Children next.

"Mysteries drive us all," Salman Rushdie writes in his new novel, Fury. "We only glimpse their veiled faces, but their power pushes us onward, toward darkness. “All of us--college professors, Wall Street investors, and cab drivers--live in a dark, Freudian world, and we are each of us,” Rushdie argues, “struggling desperately to deny our own furious animal selves.”

Malik Solanka, the fifty-five-year-old former Cambridge professor and implausibly successful doll maker at the centre of Fury, recognizes the dangers of slipping into the dark, destructive side of fury. As his wife and small son lay asleep in their London home, he had stood over her with a knife "for a terrible, dumb minute" feeling, as Rushdie puts it, "murder on the brain." The incident…which Solanka's wife stays ignorant--is alarming enough to drive Solanka out of the family, and he escapes to New York.

Fury opens with Solanka living alone in a Manhattan apartment, and he roams the streets, raging silently over the glitziness and falsehoods, present-day society offers up as a reason to work, a reason to deny the truth. Solanka has come to America to 'erase' his earlier self and the computer metaphor implied in the erasure image are central to Rushdie's anti-digital themes. The computer age is corrupted, and its code needs to be 'de-bugged,' just as Solanka's self-code must be. "If he could cleanse the whole machine," Rushdie tells us, "then maybe the bug, too, would end up in the trash."

After he drinks himself into a succession of fainting fits and gets up to read that a man similar to him has murdered yet another New York City woman, Solanka asks,” has Solanka's fury reached a new level of destructiveness? Solanka has to carry more than what his somewhat unexciting character can handle. He is too passive and it weakens the novel's sequence of events largely. At one point, Rushdie writes, "This about New York Solanka liked a lot--this sense of being crowded out by other people's stories, of walking like a phantom through a city that was in the middle of a story which didn't need him as a character."

Fury is not a fast-paced thriller. In fact, Fury is a bit slow. Too much of the action offered in the first half of the novel takes place in the past and the narrative in the present is too often a matter of Solanka's inert if angry observations about present-day society.

Rushdie's creative energies are largely focussed into pun-driven ranting. Admittedly, some of it is remarkable in its regularity and range. Rushdie books are not something one can ignore after starting them.

PS: Rushdie had dedicated this book to his then girlfriend, Padma Lakshmi, now his enstranged wife. The Muslim world is furious about him being knighted.


claire said...

This is my least favourite of all Rushdie's books that I've read (my fave is East, West). I thought his voice here is really indulgent.

Anonymous said...

I tried reading 'The midnight's children' once but couldn't get into it. I am a little hesitant to pick up anything by him.

Unknown said...

I personally think that The Midnight's Children is his best work. Even better than The Satanic Verses. Both of them IMO are best enjoyed when one knows more about India history, religion and Koran. It is better then to put the novels in the right perspective. I will however read this one as well because I truly enjoy Rushdie's writing style.

ds said...

So far, Midnight's Children is my favorite, but I also enjoyed The Moor's Last Sigh & The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Will have to search out East/West. Feel similarly to lilly re Satanic Verses: I don't know enough about India's history, religions and mythologies to do it justice (but am working on it).

S. Krishna said...

I've heard that this Rushdie books is one of the weakest of his, but I still want to read it. Thanks for the review!