I was raised neither a Catholic nor a Jew. I was both and nothing: a jewholic-anonymous, a cathjew nut, a stewpot, a mongrel cur. I was—what's the word these days? atomized. Yessir: a real Bombay mix." So says Moraes Zogioby, known as Moor, the narrator of The Moor's Last Sigh. Salman Rushdie's first novel in seven years is his best work since 1980's brilliant Midnight's Children. Moor, who has a disorder that causes him to age at twice the normal speed, is the last surviving member of a crazy clan of wealthy South Indian spice merchants. He tells their insane, incestuous, violent domestic saga, which spans four generations. It centers on his beautiful mother, Aurora da Gama, a stubborn, passionate, Christian artist who, at 15, falls in love with the handsome Abraham Zogioby, a penniless, 35-year-old Jewish employee of her family. They marry and have four children: Ina, Minnie, Mynah and Moor. Betrayal, murder, and mayhem ensue.
Rushdie, the author of nine previous books—including The Satanic Verses, which prompted Ayatollah Khomeini to issue his death sentence in 1989—alludes often to his own exile, the story of modern India and the dangers of art. At first the hyperbole, didactic asides, verbal puns, lyrical and lewd jokes, and slapstick routines seem a bit much, but if you stick with it, a cumulative magic takes hold. Rushdie's satiric, hysterically funny, political family tragedy is a masterpiece.
Susan Shapiro - Salon
This novel, looked at as a work of literary art, is a triumph, an intricate and deceptive one.... The grand deception in this book is to conceal a bitter cautionary tale within bright, carnivalesque wrappings.
Norman Rush - New York Times
The most complete and gratifying work to emerge from Salman Rushdie's imagination.... The Moor's Last Sigh is an exotic story, in its setting, in its characters, in its punning extravagance, and in its deeply human core. It is an extraordinary family saga...full of wonderful characters, and the insight born of genuine reflection.... A remarkable spell of creativity.
One of the most wonderful works of political art I have encountered, a novel to rival Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, or Dante's Divine Comedy.... The Moor's Last Sigh is one of the most admirable novels I've ever read.
Moraes Zogoiby, the product of a mixed marriage, is a self-described "cathjew nut" living in the multicultural stewpot of Bombay. His freethinking mother, Aurora, heiress to a vast spice trade fortune and reputedly a descendant of Vasco da Gama, decorates his nursery with murals featuring American cartoon characters instead of the traditional Hindu deities. Young Moraes's cultural identity is so confused that his favorite Indian is Tonto, from The Lone Ranger. Aurora is also a renowned artist, and the book's title refers to her masterpiece, which has been stolen by a rival and smuggled out of the country. Moraes's frantic search for the painting is complicated by the fact that he ages at twice the normal speed and is quickly running out of time. This rich and very readable novel is filled with playful allusions to postwar Indian history, world literature, pop culture, and Rushdie's own recent travails. On a par with the marvelous Midnight's Children, this is Rushdie's best work in years. —Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
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