Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This latest from Rushdie (The Golden House) is nothing but extraordinary. Our main character, Quichotte (an alternate spelling of Quixote), is an aged, poststroke Indian American traveling pharmaceutical rep who is confused about the boundary between TV and real life and inhabits a netherworld of fantasy. He is enamored of a mega-famous Indian American talk show host, Salma R., to whom he writes beautiful love letters. On a second level, the book overtly narrates the writing of the main story through the character of the author. This brings an added level of interiority, exposing and commenting upon the process of the novel in progress. The life of the author and that of Quichotte mimic each other, Quichotte's story taking place across America and the author's centered on London. Both converge on opioid abuse, the loss of father-son connection, and estranged brother-sister relationships, though Quichotte's story goes the extra mile to include the imminent destruction of the earth with an escape portal to alternate dimensions as the cure. VERDICT This incisively outlandish but lyrical meditation on intolerance, TV addiction, and the opioid crisis operates on multiple planes, with razor-sharp topicality and humor, delivering a reflective examination of the plight of marginalized personhood with veritable aplomb. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/19.]--Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA
Publishers Weekly Review
Rushdie's rambunctious latest (following The Golden House) hurtles through surreal time and space with the author's retooled Don Quixote on a quest for love and redemption in an unloving and irredeemable U.S.A. In this story within a story, Sam DuChamp, author of spy thrillers and father of a missing son, creates Quichotte, an elegant but deluded, TV-obsessed pharma salesman who strikes out cross-country with the son he's dreamed into existence, to kneel at the feet of an actress by the name of Miss Salma R. Quichotte and son Sancho brave Rushdie's tragicomic, terrifying version of America, a Trumpland full of bigots, opioids, and violence. They experience weird, end-of-time events--people turn into mastodons, rips appear in the atmosphere--but also talking crickets and blue fairies offering something like hope. Allowing the wild adventure to overwhelm oneself is half the fun. Rushdie's extravagant fiction is the lie that tells the truth, and, hilariously, it's not lost on the reader that he shares this Falstaffian and duplicitous notion with none other than Trump (who is never named). Rushdie's uproarious comedy, which talks to itself while packing a good deal of historical and political freight, is a brilliant rendition of the cheesy, sleazy, scary pandemonium of life in modern times. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)
Rushdie follows his last scathing best-seller, The Golden House (2017), with an exuberantly imagined and lacerating homage to the revered satire, Don Quixote. As Cervantes did four centuries ago, Rushdie attributes his tragicomic tale of a delusional romantic to another author, a midlist, Indian American crime writer using the pen name Sam Duchamp, who believes that his spy novels have put him in actual danger. While he tries to sort out his escalating travails, he finds himself writing a strange story about a chivalric, retired traveling pharmaceutical salesman utterly bewitched and befuddled by his marathon television immersions. No longer able to distinguish between truth and lies, reality and TV, he embarks on a cross-country quest to woo his beloved, Salma, a superstar talk-show host. Taking the name Quichotte from a French opera about the legendary knight-errant, he conjures up a TV-spawned teenage son to accompany him on the road and, of course, calls him Sancho. This spellbinding, many-limbed saga of lives derailing in the Age of Anything-Can-Happen is a wily frolic and a seismic denunciation. Rushdie meshes shrewd, parodic humor with intensifying suspense and pervasive sympathy, seeding this picaresque doomsday adventure with literary and television allusions and philosophical musings. As his vivid, passionate, and imperiled characters are confronted with racism, sexism, displacement, family ruptures, opioid addiction, disease, cyber warfare, and planetary convulsions, they valiantly seek the transcendence of love.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Rushdie's dazzling and provocative improvisation on an essential classic has powerful resonance in this time of weaponized lies and denials.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A modern Don Quixote lands in Trumpian America and finds plenty of windmills to tilt at.Mix Rushdie's last novel, The Golden House (2017), with his 1990 fable, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and you get something approaching this delightful confection. An aging salesman loses his job as a pharmaceutical rep, fired, with regret, by his cousin and employer. The old man, who bears the name Ismail Smile, Smile itself being an Americanization of Ismail, is "a brown man in America longing for a brown woman." He is a dreamerand not without ambition. Borrowing from both opera and dim memories of Cervantes, he decides to call himself Quichotte, though fake news, the din of television, and "the Age of Anything-Can-Happen" and not dusty medieval romances have made him a little dotty. His Dulcinea, Salma R, exists on the other side of the TV screen, so off Quichotte quests in a well-worn Chevy, having acquired as if by magic a patient son named Sancho, who observes that Dad does everything just like it's done on the tube and in stories: "So if the old Cruze is our Pequod then I guess Miss Salma R is the big fish and he, Daddy,' is my Ahab." By this point, Rushdie has complicated the yarn by attributing it to a hack writer, another Indian immigrant, named Sam DuChamp (read Sam the Sham), who has mixed into the Quixote story lashings of Moby-Dick, Ismail for Ishmael, and the Pinocchio of both Collodi and Disney ("You can call me Jiminy if you want," says an Italian-speaking cricket to Sancho along the way), to say nothing of the America of Fentanyl, hypercapitalism, and pop culture and the yearning for fame. It's a splendid mess that, in the end, becomes a meditation on storytelling, memory, truth, and other hallmarks of a disappearing civilization: "What vanishes when everything vanishes," Rushdie writes, achingly, "not only everything, but the memory of everything."Humane and humorous. Rushdie is in top form, serving up a fine piece of literary satire. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.