Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Salman Rushdie's latest novel is stories within stories -- layered like A Thousand and One Nights, where the title derives inspiration from (2 years, 8 months, 28 nights = 1,001 nights) -- and entrancing from the first page. It is set in the distant future, with the collective narrator ("we") laying out the story for the reader in the first few pages, writing that this story will be
"the tale of many other jinn, male and female, flying and slithering, good, bad, and uninterested in morality; and of the time of crisis, the time-out-of-joint which we call the time of the strangenesses, which lasted for two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights, which is to say, one thousand nights and one night more. And yes, we have lived another thousand years since those days, but we are all forever changed by that time. Whether for better or for worse, that is for our future to decide..."
I decided to include that entire quote because it gives a sense of the style of the book and the fantastical nature of it all (jinn are genies in Arabic folklore) (you may be familiar with the concept of the jinn from Aladdin, which Rushdie references "if there was one story of the jinn that everyone knew it was the tale of the jinni of the lamp who built Aladdin a palace..."). It tells the story of the "strangeness" and I like how it was narrated from some point in the far future. The only thing I didn't like about the story was that it tried to do too much -- I would've much preferred a focus on Geronimo (the main-ish character), or a general focus on those who were affected by the "strangeness." Also, at times, as the NYT book review points out, the story is a "breathless mash-up of wormholes, mythical creatures, current affairs and disquisitions on philosophy and theology." If he had focused on two of these things -- mythical creatures and current affairs -- the book itself would have a tighter focus. However, it was still highly enjoyable to read and I loved the interweaving of stories, just like its namesake. (Also check out Midnight's Children & the Satanic Verses, two other novels by Rushdie that were absolutely wonderful (links go to my old reviews). Rating: ★★★★