Wednesday, February 2, 2011

REVIEW: Luka and the Fire of Life, by Salman Rushdie

Luka and the Fire of Life, by Salman Rushdie. Published 2010 by Random House. Literary Fiction.

Luka and the Fire of Life is the follow-up, if not exactly a sequel, to Salman Rushdie's 1991 Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Luka is Haroun's little brother, and is sent on a quest to save their father as he lies dying. Accompanied by the shady and possibly treacherous Nobodaddy, a spirit sent to take his father to the world beyond, Luka travels through a wondrous world populated by gods and goddesses from every pantheon on Earth.

Luka's mission is told through the metaphor of the video game; he gains and loses lives and traverses levels and playing fields as he figures out how to solve his dilemma and keep his father alive. Rushdie tells the story in lively, allusive, imaginative prose that kept me turning pages- and kept me smiling, too. Luka's father is a storyteller and the world Luka finds himself in is the world of his father's stories; Luka must figure out how to use those stories to bring his own to a happy ending.

Smart, inventive, playful and sweet, Luka and the Fire of Life will appeal to lots of readers. I liked it; I didn't love it but I enjoyed the journey through Rushdie's imagination. It was my first Rushdie, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, and I don't think readers will have to have read Haroun to enjoy it. I'm looking forward though to reading more of his serious fiction, having gotten just a little taste of what he can do in this book. I hope other readers are motivated to explore more of his work too after this charming introduction to one of the world's most acclaimed living writers.

Read my interview with Salman Rushdie here.


FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.