Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Haroun and the Sea of StoriesHaroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was adorable! Creative and unique. A lovely book to read with your children about the power to freely discuss and criticize ideas. My understanding is that Rushdie wrote this for his son and I found myself reading the book seeing Rashid as Rushdie and Haroun as Rushdie’s son, which added a whole extra layer to their arguments. This was after reading Rushdie’s Joseph Anton a few years back; there was lots I’ve forgotten but bits and pieces of that autobiography kept surfacing in my head while I was reading Sea of Stories, mostly because in Joseph Anton Rushdie talks about writing this book. That’s what made me want to read it and I can assure you it does not disappoint.

I think my favourite part of Sea of Stories was Rushdie’s use of the constant arguments between his characters to make them into a united front against their enemy. They persevere because everyone criticized every aspect of the plan and they were allowed to be open about their concerns, not in spite of those disagreements. Considering Rushdie’s history with having fatwas laid on him for his criticism of major religions, it isn’t surprising that this message would be included in one of his books. (Or possibly all of them, I’ve only read a few.) The idea that thoughtful criticism could -or should- be punishable by death really needs to be eradicated from the universe as a whole. How can we possibly move forwards in compassion and love if no one is allowed to point out what we’re doing wrong? Or worse, if only certain people are allowed to say what we’re doing wrong? If we limit ourselves to only a small portion of the lived experience of the population, we’re demanding the world hobble itself for us and calling it devotion. How much do you miss if you’re on a journey and you keep your eyes closed half the time?

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