The magnificent novel from the author of the Booker-prize winning novel Midnight's Children.
Sir Salman Rushdie has received many awards for his writing, including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Much like Rushdie himself, the mysterious yellow-haired stranger we meet in the opening pages of this magical and haunting new novel is a teller of tales, "driven out of his door by stories of wonder." This young man, straddling the worlds of 16th-century Florence and Mughal India much as he stands astride a bullock cart and enters the emperor's domain in Sikri, is driven to this new land with a story that can either make him his fortune or cost him his life. Appearing before the Emperor Akbar, the young man presents himself as an emissary of Queen Elizabeth I. When Akbar challenges his identity, the storyteller begins to weave the dangerous tale of Qara Koz, the enchantress of Florence, whom he claims is his mother. Parading through this tale of two worlds are Niccoli Machiavelli and Amerigo Vespucci's cousin, Ago. Koz's power, like the power of many beautiful women in Rushdie's novels, is often realized through her relationships with the men in her life, so her story often becomes one-dimensional. Nevertheless, Rushdie's lushly evocative creation of the mysteries and intrigues of a medieval world and his enchanting and seductive stories captivate and transport us in ways reminiscent of his early novels like Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses. Highly recommended.--Henry Carrigan, Evanston, IL Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Renaissance Florence's artistic zenith and Mughal India's cultural summit--reached the following century, at Emperor Akbar's court in Sikri--are the twin beacons of Rushdie's ingenious latest, a dense but sparkling return to form. The connecting link between the two cities and epochs is the magically beautiful "hidden princess," Qara Kez, so gorgeous that her uncovered face makes battle-hardened warriors drop to their knees. Her story underlies the book's circuitous journey. A mysterious yellow-haired man in a multicolored coat steps off a rented bullock cart and walks into 16th-century Sikri: he speaks excellent Persian, has a stock of conjurer's tricks and claims to be Akbar's uncle. He carries with him a letter from Queen Elizabeth I, which he translates for Akbar with vast incorrectness. But it is the story of Akbar's great-aunt, Qara Kez, that the man (her putative son) has come to the court to tell. The tale dates to the time of Akbar's grandfather, Babar (Qara Kez's brother), and it involves her relationship with the Persian Shah. In the Shah's employ is Janissary general Nino Argalia, an Italian convert to Islam, whose own story takes the narrative to Renaissance Florence. Rushdie eventually presents an extended portrait of Florence through the eyes of Niccoli Machiavelli and Ago Vespucci, cousin of the more famous Amerigo. Rushdie's portrayal of Florence pales in comparison with his depiction of Mughal court society, but it brings Rushdie to his real fascination here: the multitudinous, capillary connections between East and West, a secret history of interchanges that's disguised by standard histories in which West "discovers" East. Along the novel's roundabout way, Qara Kez does seem more alive as a sexual obsession in the tales swapped by various men than as her own person. Genial Akbar, however, emerges as the most fascinating character in the book. Chuang Tzu tells of a man who dreams of being a butterfly and, on waking up, wonders whether he is now a butterfly dreaming he is a man. In Rushdie's version of the West and East, the two cultures take on a similar blended polarity in Akbar as he listens to the tales. Each culture becomes the dream of the other. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"A brilliant, fascinating, generous novel...wonderful" -- Ursula le Guin Guardian "A wild and whirling novel" Observer "For Rushdie, as for the artists he writes about, the pen is a magician's wand. There is more magic than realism in this latest novel. But it is, I think, one of his best. If The Enchantress of Florence doesn't win this year's Man Booker I'll curry my proof copy and eat it" Financial Times "My first desire on finishing it was to go back and re-read it. Like all of Rushdie's work, the playfulness, the passion, the erudition and the sensuousness go hand in hand. It's immensely rich...it's one of his best" Scotsman "An exuberant mix of fantasy and history" Daily Mail