I finished this on about the 1st of March and forgot to post my thoughts.
Sad to say I was disappointed in this latest offering from a man I consider to be one of the greatest authors alive today. It started out quite well but that didn’t hold up. But he’s written several books I wasn’t all that crazy about so …. I guess it’s par for the course since I enjoyed his last several.
by Salman Rushdie
2023 / 326 pages
Read by Sid Sagar 11h 48m
Rating – 7.5 / historical-magical realism
Much of what is background in this novel is supposedly true (from what I read. – I just wish I knew more of the history so I could have followed better).
I knew precious few of the multitude of names and places and events in this magical novel so when I came upon the name Ibn Batuta – my head snapped up. I knew this name! Ibn Batuta was a well known, learned and widely traveled scholar who, for about 3 decades, wandered and wrote about his travels, where all he visited and what all he saw. This included India in the area of which Rushdie writes.
I’ve loved Salman Rushdie’s works since I first read The Satanic Verses. I’d read other of his books but something about Satanic Verses and the hype after the Fatwa turned m off. Ha! I loved that book. When I finished I said, “Huh? How did that go from Point A to Point C? What happened?” And I promptly turned the book over and read it all the way through a second time.
Over the years I’ve run hot and cool on Rushdie’s novels. The Satanic Verses is the best (imo), Midnight’s Children, which I’ve read at least twice is also way up there along with several others. But Shame and Fury and some of the others are flat to me. The more recent ones seem to have been better, since The Enchantress of Florence anyway. So I was excited about a new one.
Too bad, so sad. I very much appreciated the first third or so of Victory City but then it lost steam with the repetitive stories as the years past and too many characters were doing what seemed to be the same thing over and over again. I got so confused I just finished to see how it ended. If it had been more interested I might have started over when I got confused. Nope – this one didn’t seem worth that.
Victory City takes place in central India in the kingdom of Kampili circa 14th century where the King has just been overthrown. The women of Kampili are distraught and walk into a very large bonfire in honor of heir sons and husbands and fathers. Pampa Kampana’s mother walks into the flames with them leaving Pampa an orphan. She grows up to be ravishingly beautiful with seemingly magical powers. She marries well and has children who marry well and have children. Life and wars go on. And Pampi gets older and older.
Awww, I liked this one!
Female empresses are a rarity (though there was Catherine the Great), so I enjoyed watching her try to create a different sort of society.
I love Catherine the Great – and I wish I’d had more time to really peruse Victory City because I understand that much of it is historical. I’m familiar with some of it but barely – like Ibn Batuta. I must have simply felt pressured.