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Quichotte : a novel / Salman Rushdie.

By: Rushdie, Salman.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Jonathan Cape, 2019Copyright date: ©2019Description: xii, 390 pages ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9781787331921 (paperback); 178733192X.Contained works: Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de, 1547-1616.Subject(s): Traveling sales personnel -- Fiction | Voyages and travels -- Fiction | Novelists -- Fiction | United States -- FictionDDC classification: 823/.914 Summary: Quichotte, an aging travelling salesman obsessed with the "unreal real" of TV, falls in impossible love with a queen of the screen; while obsessively writing her love letters, he wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence. Together they set off across America in Quichotte's trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love. Meanwhile, Quichotte's tragicomic story is being told by the author who created him: Brother, a mediocre spy novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis. As their stories intertwine, we are taken on a wild, picaresque journey through a country on the edge of moral and spiritual collapse. Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirize the culture of his time, Rushdie brings us a new twist on a classic. Quichotte is a profoundly human love story and a wickedly entertaining satire of a corrupt age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction. With unforgettable characters and riveting suspense, this dazzling novel showcases an essential storyteller at his brilliant best.
List(s) this item appears in: The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2019
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Default Sydenham Library (DIY)
Fiction RUSH Available IA2055793
Default St Albans Library (DIY)
Fiction RUSH Available IA2055727
Default Keilor Library
Fiction RUSH Available IA2055728
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Quichotte, an aging travelling salesman obsessed with the "unreal real" of TV, falls in impossible love with a queen of the screen; while obsessively writing her love letters, he wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence. Together they set off across America in Quichotte's trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love. Meanwhile, Quichotte's tragicomic story is being told by the author who created him: Brother, a mediocre spy novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis. As their stories intertwine, we are taken on a wild, picaresque journey through a country on the edge of moral and spiritual collapse. Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirize the culture of his time, Rushdie brings us a new twist on a classic. Quichotte is a profoundly human love story and a wickedly entertaining satire of a corrupt age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction. With unforgettable characters and riveting suspense, this dazzling novel showcases an essential storyteller at his brilliant best.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Chapter One Quichotte, an old Man, falls in Love, embarks on a Quest, & becomes a Father There once lived, at a series of temporary addresses across the United States of America, a traveling man of Indian origin, advancing years, and retreating mental powers, who, on account of his love for mindless television, had spent far too much of his life in the yellow light of tawdry motel rooms watching an excess of it, and had suffered a peculiar form of brain damage as a result. He devoured morning shows, daytime shows, late-­night talk shows, soaps, situation comedies, Lifetime movies, hospital dramas, police series, vampire and zombie serials, the dramas of housewives from Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, and New York, the romances and quarrels of hotel-­fortune princesses and self-­styled shahs, the cavortings of individuals made famous by happy nudities, the fifteen minutes of fame accorded to young persons with large social media followings on account of their plastic-­surgery acquisition of a third breast or their post-­rib-­removal figures that mimicked the impossible shape of the Mattel company's Barbie doll, or even, more simply, their ability to catch giant carp in picturesque settings while wearing only the tiniest of string bikinis; as well as singing competitions, cooking competitions, competitions for business propositions, competitions for business apprenticeships, competitions between remote-­controlled monster vehicles, fashion competitions, competitions for the affections of both bachelors and bachelorettes, baseball games, basketball games, football games, wrestling bouts, kickboxing bouts, extreme sports programming, and, of course, beauty contests. (He did not watch "hockey." For people of his ethnic persuasion and tropical youth, hockey, which in the USA was renamed "field hockey," was a game played on grass. To play field hockey on ice was, in his opinion, the absurd equivalent of ice-­skating on a lawn.) As a consequence of his near-­total preoccupation with the material offered up to him through, in the old days, the cathode-­ray tube, and, in the new age of flat screens, through liquid-­crystal, plasma, and organic light-­emitting diode displays, he fell victim to that increasingly prevalent psychological disorder in which the boundary between truth and lies became smudged and indistinct, so that at times he found himself incapable of distinguishing one from the other, reality from "reality," and began to think of himself as a natural citizen (and potential inhabitant) of that imaginary world beyond the screen to which he was so devoted, and which, he believed, provided him, and therefore everyone, with the moral, social, and practical guidelines by which all men and women should live. As time passed and he sank ever deeper into the quicksand of what might be termed the unreal real, he felt himself becoming emotionally involved with many of the inhabitants of that other, brighter world, membership in which he thought of as his to claim by right, like a latter-­day Dorothy contemplating a permanent move to Oz; and at an unknown point he developed an unwholesome, because entirely one-­sided, passion for a certain television personality, the beautiful, witty, and adored Miss Salma R, an infatuation which he characterized, quite inaccurately, as love. In the name of this so-­called love he resolved zealously to pursue his "beloved" right through the television screen into whatever exalted high-­definition reality she and her kind inhabited, and, by deeds as well as grace, to win her heart. He spoke slowly and moved slowly too, dragging his right leg a little when he walked--­the lasting consequence of a dramatic Interior Event many years earlier, which had also damaged his memory, so that while happenings in the distant past remained vivid, his remembrances of the middle period of his life had become hit-­and-­miss, with large hiatuses and other gaps which had been filled up, as if by a careless builder in a hurry, with false memories created by things he might have seen on TV. Other than that, he seemed in good enough shape for a man of his years. He was a tall, one might even say an elongated, man, of the sort one encounters in the gaunt paintings of El Greco and the narrow sculptures of Alberto Giacometti, and although such men are (for the most part) of a melancholy disposition, he was blessed with a cheerful smile and the charming manner of a gentleman of the old school, both valuable assets for a commercial traveler, which, in these his golden years, he became for a lengthy time. In addition, his name itself was cheerful: It was Smile. Mr Ismail Smile, Sales Executive, Smile Pharmaceuticals Inc., Atlanta, GA, it said on his business card. As a salesman he had always been proud that his name was the same as the name of the corporation whose representative he was. The family name. It lent him a certain gravitas, or so he believed. This was not, however, the name by which he chose to be known during his last, most foolish adventure. (The unusual surname Smile, by the by, was the Americanized version of Ismail, so the old traveling salesman was really Mr. Ismail Ismail, or, alternatively, Mr. Smile Smile. He was a brown man in America longing for a brown woman, but he did not see his story in racial terms. He had become, one might say, detached from his skin. This was one of the many things his quest would put in question, and change.) The more he thought about the woman he professed to love, the clearer it became to him that so magnificent a personage would not simply keel over with joy at the first declaration of amour fou from a total stranger. (He wasn't as crazy as that.) Therefore it would be necessary for him to prove himself worthy of her, and the provision of such proofs would henceforth be his only concern. Yes! He would amply demonstrate his worth! It would be necessary, as he began his quest, to keep the object of his affections fully informed of his doings, and so he proposed to begin a correspondence with her, a sequence of letters which would reveal his sincerity, the depth of his affections, and the lengths to which he was ready to go to gain her hand. It was at this point in his reflections that a kind of shyness overtook him. Were he to reveal to her how humble his station in life truly was, she might toss his letter in the trash with a pretty laugh and be done with him forever. Were he to disclose his age or give her details of his appearance, she might recoil from the information with a mixture of amusement and horror. Were he to offer her his name, the admittedly august name of Smile, a name with big money attached to it, she might, in the grip of a bad mood, alert the authorities, and to be hunted down like a dog at the behest of the object of his adorations would break his heart, and he would surely die. Therefore he would for the moment keep his true identity a secret, and would reveal it only when his letters, and the deeds they described, had softened her attitude toward him and made her receptive to his advances. How would he know when that moment arrived? That was a question to be answered later. Right now the important thing was to begin. And one day the proper name to use, the best of all identities to assume, came to him in that moment between waking and sleeping when the imagined world behind our eyelids can drip its magic into the world we see when we open our eyes. That morning he seemed to see himself in a dream addressing himself awake. "Look at yourself," his half-­sleeping self murmured to his half-­waking self. "So tall, so skinny, so ancient, and yet you can't grow anything better than the straggliest of beards, as if you were a teenager with spots. And yes, admit it, maybe a little cracked in the head, one of those head-­in-­the-­clouds fellows who mistakes cumulus, or cumulonimbus, or even cirrostratus formations for solid ground. Just think back to your favorite piece of music when you were a boy! I know, these days you prefer the warblings you hear on American Idol or The Voice. But back in the day, you liked what your artistic father liked, you adopted his musical taste as your own. Do you remember his favorite record?" Whereupon the half-­dream-­Smile produced, with a flourish, a vinyl LP which half-­awake-­Smile recognized at once. It was a recording of the opera Don Quichotte by Jules Massenet. "Only loosely based on the great masterpiece of Cervantes, isn't it," mused the phantom. "And as for you, it seems you're a little loosely based yourself." It was settled. He climbed out of bed in his striped pajamas--­more quickly than was his wont--­and actually clapped his hands. Yes! This would be the pseudonym he would use in his love letters. He would be her ingenious gentleman, Quichotte. He would be Lancelot to her Guinevere, and carry her away to Joyous Gard. He would be--­to quote Chaucer's Canterbury Tales--­her verray, parfit, gentil knyght. Excerpted from Quichotte: A Novel by Salman Rushdie All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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.)

Booklist Review

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.

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