Back in 2013, Salman Rushdie wrote an article for The New York Times regarding moral courage. It’s a theme he has visited before, and he does so again in an ambitious, smart and dark fable that is full of rich and profound notions about human nature.
He asks many philosophical questions, about religion, god, science and reason, but by inserting his own persecution for art in to this world of Jinns, blood-sucking demons and humans who are suddenly gifted superpowers after a mighty storm, it adds an insightful edge and warmth that keeps you truly invested.
As an angry war erupts between four male Jinns, and the fabric of the world is ripped apart, it is down to female Jinnia, Dunia, to save the day. Is Rushdie suggesting a new world order that has women as rulers? It’s certainly a possibility, but with the appearance of a character named Teresa Saca he refuses to draw such broad strokes, instead preferring a team of crusaders to bring about change.
The main narrative of a weary old man (a philosopher) having a grand love affair with a younger woman may grate, but with the essence of the relationship investigating more than male existential crisis and instead focusing on the need to quell certain emotions it just about gets away with it.
Rushdie is out to provoke, and he hits some nerves in relation to moral decay, dictatorships, fame, government corruption and the oppression of women. He also examines the structure and use of language. Reference points vary greatly and his use of pop culture and revered artists including Goya, Batman and Woody Allen make his thoughts entirely accessible.