Author: Salman Rushdie
The Moor's Last Sigh was Rushdie's first novel to be published after the hubbub. The book provides the fictitious family history of narrator Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, a Portuguese-Jewish-Indian man living in double-time. For him, one year of chronological time equals two years of biological aging. By the time he reaches ten years of age, for instance, he looks like he's 20.
Even with his temporal quirk, the narrator is the story's least interesting character. The colorful personalities span four generations. The family's history provides a window into the grand sweep of India's volatile history in the 20th century. Moor's parents are both based on real-life figures. Mother Aurora Zogoiby was inspired by artist Amrita Sher-Gil, father Abraham by arch-criminal Dawood Ibrahim. All of the characters are thoroughly detestable, from Moor on up. As such, it's difficult to find a rooting interest. The footholds are found in the author's frequently beautiful prose and his occasional moments of trippy magical realism.
While I admire Rushdie's skill, I had a hard time getting into this one. I was charmed by clever puns and Shakespeare and Wizard of Oz references but the playful language often goes a bit too far, pulling me out of the narrative rather than further into it. I appreciate the unusual perspective on Indian history and the glimpse into the country's niche "Western" populations. But the lack of likeable characters detracted from my enjoyment of the overall narrative.