Salman Rushdie: The Moor’s Last Sigh


(c)1995; London: Johnathan Cape; ISBN: 0224038141 (c)1996; New York: Knopf; ISBN: 0679420495

Knopf’s site on the Moor’s Last Sigh

Billed as the sequel to Midnight’s Children, this is the latest novel Rushdie has published. The eye of the storm in this case is composed members of the small Jewish and Christian communities in India. Chock-full of metaphors and multi-lingual feats, at times “The Moor’s Last Sigh” threatens to prefigure all criticism and/or re-structuring. Less overtly Indian than “Midnight’s Children”, “The Moor’s Last Sigh” also seems, to me, a book that make few compromises for western eyes. This is also perhaps Rushdie’s saddest book, with too many departures, and pathetic yearnings, to be shaken off lightly.

The Moor’s Last Sigh was on the Booker prize short-list for 1995 and has won the Whitbread novel of the year award.

The book was not released for distribution in Bombay by its Indian publisher (Rupa and Co.) due to fears of violent protest. The novel contains a caricature of Bal Thackeray, the leader of the Shiv Sena, a regional political party based in Maharashtra that has Hindu fundamentalist leanings. Subsequently, distribution was stopped all over India by a government order, and it appears, by an informal “ban” put in place by Indian Customs authorities. The publishers Rupa & Co. petitioned the Supreme Court to lift the “ban” imposed by the Central Government and it was lifted in late February. It is now possible to buy the book in India and in Bombay as well. The Shiv-Sena is noted for its strong arm tactics and attacks on journalists and newspapers that earn its leader’s ire.

To burn a book is not to destroy it. One minute of darkness will not make us blind. “Gabriel García Márquez: Clandestine in Chile” quoted in Imaginary Homelands

Moor is selling quite well, paperback sales for the UK publisher exceeded 180,000 copies for the latter half of 1996 and US figures are probably comparable. Thanks to Chris Rollason for the info, the entire message is available.