25 November, 2020

Sir Talk-A-Lot

Is it Rushdie's worst yet? Or is overblown fabulism out of fashion?

Sir Talk-A-Lot

So long trumpeted, Salman Rushdie's ninth book— a novel, as it is classified—threatens to be his worst yet. The Enchantress of Florence, his new book, is here, to be read and discussed, or at least skimmed through and talked about. But of all the novels he has written, there isn't another whose readability has been challenged quite as rigorously as this one.

The novel is "by a long chalk, the worst thing he has ever written", Peter Kemp writes in his review in The Sunday Times. "Fiendish tortures—agonising suspension from ropes, death by suffocation inside a slowly drying donkey skin—are shudderingly mentioned in it. But they are more than rivalled by the book's repertoire of excruciating effects. Merciless authorial garrulity is unleashed in chapter after chapter."

The story of Rushdie's long self-advertised Enchantress opens with a Florentine heading out for Akbar's court on a mysterious visit. Kemp writes that "long before the answers to these riddles are provided in the book's last pages, other...



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