BOOK REVIEW: SALMAN RUSHDIE – QUICHOTTE

Today, it’s another book review of one of the books on the shortlist of the Booker Prize, Quichotte by Salman Rushdie. And, to be honest, I didn’t like this one, at all…

Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte is currently on the shortlist for the Booker Prize 2019 and the winner being announced very soon. I didn’t like this book at all to be honest. But first, here’s the synopsis:

In a tour-de-force that is both an homage to an immortal work of literature and a modern masterpiece about the quest for love and family, Booker Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author Salman Rushdie has created a dazzling Don Quixote for the modern age.

Inspired by the Cervantes classic, Sam DuChamp, mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates Quichotte, a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television, who falls in impossible love with the TV star Salman R. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where ‘Anything-Can-Happen’. Meanwhile his creator, in a midlife crisis, has equally urgent challenges of his own.

Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirise the culture of his time, Rushdie takes the reader on a wild ride through a country on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse, with the kind of storytelling magic that is the hallmark of his work. The fully realised lives of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine in a profoundly human quest for love and a wickedly entertaining portrait of an age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.

Before reading this book, I found it a fascinating concept and plot. I think the cover is gorgeous too and drew me in straight away. But straight away, I just couldn’t get into it. And I feel like that when reading books most of the time, that it’s hard to get into it and it’s worth staying for but this? It didn’t hit the spot for me. I found it very frustrating, grating and that frustration didn’t even lead to anything at the end of the book.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not familiar with Rushdie’s writing or Cervantes’ Don Quixote, but I just couldn’t get into it. I feel that there’s just way too much going on in this book: too many ideas, too many arguments, too many opinions from Rushdie himself – it felt suffocating. I know what he’s trying to do – make a satire for ‘the modern world’, etc, but it was extremely heavy-handed and just there for the sake of it.

The only moments I liked in the book was from the perspective of the character of Sancho. I found his voice more interesting and felt that he was the only character with actual depth and character. Is that the point? Maybe. Perhaps, but still…

I’m going to leave it here because I don’t know what else to say about this book other than I hated it. I think it’s a great shame as I really thought this would be a book that would grip and interest me but it was just a load of rubbish (you can skim pretty much most of it and still not miss a thing) and the ending just made me laugh (and not in a good way). It felt more of a book of ideas, arguments, thoughts from Rushdie and it felt exhausting and frustrating but never going anywhere. And I feel that the beautiful novel Lanny from Max Porter isn’t on the shortlist, when this is. I really hope this isn’t the winner of the Booker Prize as I think he’s only on the shortlist because of his name, not this novel. I’m rooting for Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo to win, or if not, The Testaments. 

Anyway… have you read Quichotte? Did you enjoy it more than me? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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