Monday, May 16, 2011

The Moor's Last Sigh

This is an epic about many things : about Bombay, about growing up and about the different manifestations of love; but most of all, it is about women, about four generations of strong, proud, flawed mothers, wives & daughters, and their culmination into one ultimate flawed, hapless, helpless man - MOOR. The plot is a family history, a narrative of the life stories of 4 generations of the Da Gama/Zogoiby family where not one member is perfect (which is probably a true reflection of real-life where everyone has his/her share of imperfections). Moraes 'Moor' Zogoiby, the last son of the Zogoiby family, and the narrator, takes us on a journey from the origins of his family tree all the way to his final hours, where we see the successes & the failings of his family. We see them becoming exceedingly rich professionally, and reaching a shocking level of moral decay, with a climax that is shocking for its savagery.

The writing doesn't have Rowling's simplicity, King's invention or Dan Brown's breathless pace; but what it lacks is more than made up by an amazingly inventive narrative style and an almost magical play on/with words. The simple, straightforward story becomes an extraordinary achievement thanks to the narration. Most writers have one, proven style of narration and stick to it; Rushdie on the other hand, seems to constantly experiment with and evolve his prose style, and in the process finds exhiliratingly original ways of narration.

His manipulation of words is astonishing at times, and the inventiveness of his narrative style is always brilliant. His ability to take simple acts, and describe them, so as to effortlessly ascribe to them profound meanings and philosophical connotations is truly exhilirating. And thus, from the simple act of breathing, he comes up with the following : "I sigh, therefore I am. A sigh isn't just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning." This was one book which never seemed to end, partly because it is fairly long, but also because there were so many passages of mind-blowing writing that I couldn't resist reading these over and over to savour the magic of his words.

An epic in every sense of the word.

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