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The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie

American Library Association2010Banned in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Quatar, Indonesia, South Africa, and India because of its criticism of Islam. Burned in West Yorkshire, England (1989) and temporarily withdrawn from two bookstores on the advice of police who took threats to staff and property seriously. In Pakistan five people died in riots against the book. Another man died a day later in Kashmir. Ayatollah Khomeni issued a fatwa or religious edict, stating, "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses, which is against Islam, the prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, have been sentenced to death." Challenged at the Wichita, KS Public Library (1989) because the book is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed." In Venezuela, owning or reading it was declared a crime under penalty of 15 months' imprisonment. In Japan, the sale of the English-language edition was banned under the threat of fines. The governments of Bulgaria and Poland also restricted its distribution. In 1991, in separate incidents, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was seriously wounded. In 1993 William Nygaard, its Norwegian publisher, was shot and seriously injured.
Book Summary2011The Satanic Verses has been interpreted as a commentary that illustrates both the good and evil inherent in religious devotion. Creating several levels of meaning by frequent use of puns, metaphors, similes, and allusions to popular culture and the sacred beliefs of Islam, the novel begins with the miraculous survival of two expatriate Indian men, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who fall to Earth following an airplane explosion over England. The two alter egos are considered the personification of good and evil, but distinctions between them are frequently blurred as they undergo continual metamorphoses of body and personality. Gibreel, a movie star in Indian religious films, or “theologicals,” experiences vivid dreams in which historical events surrounding the founding of Islam are depicted in epic detail—similar to those found in theologicals. Saladin, who transforms into a satanic figure, sinks into the demonic realm of flesh and vice, where society is devoid of justice. The narrative follows these characters through the intertwining of past and present until their final confrontation on a movie set. ("Explanation of: 'The Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2011. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
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