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Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Salman Rushdie, Illustrated by Paul Birkbeck

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  • Publisher: Puffin Books
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 127mm x 196mm x 15mm | 159g
  • Publication date: 25 March 1993
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140366504
  • ISBN 13: 9780140366501
  • Sales rank: 6,528

Product description

Haroun's father is the greatest of all storytellers. His magical stories bring laughter to the sad city of Alifbay. But one day something goes wrong and his father runs out of stories to tell. Haroun is determined to return the storyteller's gift to his father. So he flies off on the back of the Hoopie bird to the Sea of Stories - and a fantastic adventure begins.

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Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 16 Jul 2013 5

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is Salman Rushdie's fifth fiction book, and his first children's novel. He dedicated this book to his 10-year-old son Zafar, from whom he had been separated for some time. The story concerns Haroun, the son of storyteller, Rashid Khalifa. Rashid is described as the Ocean of Notions, the Shah of Blah. When a tragic event stops the flow of his father's stories, Haroun sets out to rectify the situation. In a journey that involves mechanical birds and blue-bearded Water Genies, Plentimaw Fish and Floating Gardeners, a King, Prince and Princess, Pages and Shadow Warriors, heroes and nasty villains, Haroun is faced with numerous challenges and learns much. This is a charming children's story that has much to offer adults. As an allegorical tale, it appears to comment on bureaucracy: "...a skinny, scrawny, snivelling, drivelling, mingy, stingy, measly, weaselly clerk...."; and "....P2C2E, a Process Too Complicated To Explain...". Coming not long after the publication of The Satanic Verses and the ensuing fatwa, it comments, too, on freedom of speech, independent thought and imagination, and censorship. Finally, it is a story about the love between a father and son, this being reflected in the dedication to Zafar. There are poems and puns to bring a smile to the lips; wordplay and pleasing repetitions that will have readers of every age chuckling. Delightful allusions to works as varied as Alice in Wonderland, The Beatles' songs and the Tales of a Thousand and One nights abound. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it more than any other Rushdie book I have read so far, and I look forward to his next children's book, Luka and the Fire of Life.

Editorial reviews

Memorable bedtime story targeted for an audience as large as a bull's-eye on the side of a barn. The book is catalogued for January but will be shipped to bookstores in early November for Thanksgiving sales. Few readers will not find some tie between this story of a silenced father-storyteller and Rushdie's death sentence from the Ayatollah Khomeini - but it's a tie not stressed by the author. Perhaps the brightest aspect of the book is its bubbling good humor and witty dialogue, and then its often superb writing: "There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue." (Alifbay, the glossary here tells us, comes from the Hindustani word for "alphabet.") The story: In the town of K, the Shah of Blah, Rashid Khalifa, a renowned storyteller and the father of Haroun, is deserted by his wife exactly at 11:00 a.m. and loses his power to tell stories. Haroun too loses the power to concentrate longer than 11 minutes. What's more, he insults his father's stories, calling them untrue, but then feels deep guilt for adding to his father's despair. In a P2C2E (a Process Too Complicated To Explain), it seems that most of Rashid's problems are part of the Great Story Sea becoming polluted and the Supplier of Story Water shutting down Rashid's supply. As a Water Genie explains to Haroun: "The gentleman no longer requires the service; has discontinued narrative activities, thrown in the towel, packed it in. He has cancelled his subscription: Hence my presence, for purposes of Disconnection." Which is the typical tumbling Rushdie jumpcat spoken by all and by Miss Blabbermouth, otherwise known as the Princess Batcheat Chattergy (batcheat= "baat-cheet" or chitchat), held prisoner in the Citadel of Chup, a castle built entirely of black ice. Parted from Rashid, Haroun on his own fights Khattum-Shud, who shuts down stories, and purifies the story waters in the Ocean of the Stream of Stories. A strong winner, though the storyline fades in and out of the prose - a fault that may pass unnoticed if the book's not read in one sitting. (Kirkus Reviews)