Bedtime Story for Grownups: Book review of TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY-EIGHT NIGHTS

The New York Daily News calls Salman Rushdie’s latest novel “a bedtime story for grownups.” Neil Gaiman says that TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY-EIGHT NIGHTS is a book he’s looking forward to reading. Reasonably so. Rushdie’s mid-eastern retake of The Thousand and One Nights (do the math: 2 yrs, 8 mos, 28 nights) is reminiscent of Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS.

Here’s the cool stuff:

  • A mysterious female jinn comes to earth and has babies–lots of them–with man.
  • These descendants have “powers”, including:
    • A man whose feet don’t touch the ground;
    • A kid who can cause boils to infect corrupt individuals;
    • A not-quite Stan Lee who sees his creation come to life; and,
    • A girl who can shoot lightning bolts from her fingers.
  • The “good” jinn and their human “heroes” fight against the “bad” jinn.
  • The final battle is in New York City.

No, this is nothing like The Avengers.

Welcome to Rushdie land. For first-time readers, they may say, “what the hell?” Or worse. Kind of like I did with my first Neil Gaiman book. Blend methodical writing and “absurdist humor” to tell a tale infused with Arab, Persian, and Indian mythology and this is what you get. It grows on you.

Other reviewers tend to agree. Welloflostplots was sometimes lost in the “ponderous plots and lack of character development.” Books, in other words chooses a quote from the book to describe the book itself, and its “stories within stories upon stories”:

“And by this time the Chinese box was peeling crazily, and as each layer fell away a new voice told a new tale, none of the tales finished because the box inevitably found a new story inside each unfinished one, until it seemed that digression was the true principle of the universe, that the only real subject was the way the subject kept changing, and how could anyone live in a crazy situation in which nothing remained the same for five minutes and no narrative was ever driven through to its conclusion, there could be no meaning in such an environment, only absurdity, the unmeaningness that was the only sort of meaning anyone could hold on to.”

This may be one of the shortest Rushdie novels, but it is still quite the ride. His writing is known for its “dense, lyrical prose”. It is poetic and ancient in beauty. It is layered in depth and meaning. It is not for everyone.

The story is AMAZING and the writing gorgeous, though some may say Rushdie meanders when others could fly. It is a choice in how you want to spend you reading time.


6 thoughts on “Bedtime Story for Grownups: Book review of TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY-EIGHT NIGHTS

  1. El @ Just Love

    I’ve tried so many times to read Rushdie, but his writing style has always grated on my nerves. This book sounds so good though. If it’s really one of his shorter works, I might give it a try, especially since I love the urban mythology theme.

  2. Karen

    Oooo! I definitely did not do the math so I didn’t catch on re: the connection to The Thousand and One Nights! I love the idea of it being a “bedtime story for grown ups”… Up the TBR queue it goes!

    1. ryandejonghe Post author

      Hopefully that quote gives you a sense of the writing style. The elements are all there for folks that can appreciate the style. Whimsical and very much storytelling.

  3. Heather

    The only Rushdie book I’ve read is ‘Midnight’s Children’. Overall I didn’t really like it that much and it felt like it took me forever to get through, but I really enjoyed the writing itself and despite not liking the book I haven’t been put off reading more of his work. His latest novel is definitely at the top of my list.


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