It didn’t take me too long to finish reading this strange and whimsical book here but while reading it, it did feel like it took me forever. I’m not sure if it was a psychological issue, since the title itself is all about time.
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by bestselling author, Salman Rushdie, is about the unique relationship between a female jinn, Dunia, and a human male, a philosopher by the name of Ibn Rushd, which spanned centuries, and the brood they created came into existence with a special soul. They were as normal as you and me, holding down a job, gardening, owning a home and driving a car. They were as normal as the other human beings in the story. The only difference was their inner possession of a super power and the levitation that caused an uproar among their own kind. The book wasn’t all about Dunia and Ibn Rushd, though. It was also about the rest of the jinns and jinnias in the fairy world.
I was amazed that my phone dictionary even has the word ‘strangenesses‘ that was used to describe the situation that the children of Dunia and Ibn Rushd were in. It was a well and truly whimsical story, something like that of the BFG. Although to some extent, if one did believe that the jinns and jinnias did exist, then the story isn’t so much of a whimsical one.
Below is the summary of the book from Goodreads:
From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.
In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.
Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.
Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.
Inspired by the traditional ‘wonder tales’ of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights reminded me, as well, of something out of M. Night Shyamalan’s work. Shyamalan is an Indian-American film director, producer, screenwriter, and occasional actor who is known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots. Maybe Shyamalan should take the reins for turning this book into a film.
There were a lot of strange supernatural and mythical shit going around in my head, it was hard to believe that it was only a book and that I wasn’t going mad. When I reached the part of the book where the author had begun explaining the relationships between Dunia and her other jinn playmates – the great and fiery Zumurrud Shah, the polar ice sorcerer Zabardast, the master of soul possession Shining Ruby, and Ra’im Blood Drinker – I kind of did a brief Google search on Zumurrud Shah, and lo and behold, he seemed to be a real thing, a Middle Eastern version of the devil Lucifer. I thought Zabardast seemed like a suitable name for a magician which I had plans on building in the Priston Tale game.
When I got to the next part of the book on the War of the Worlds between the good jinn and the dark jinn, again, it reminded me of something else. It took on similarities of the battles fought between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, as well as between Gandalf and the evil forces of Mordor. It was a way of saying that darkness can be defeated by light. It was as simple as saying that if you’re afraid of the dark, just switch on the lights in your home and voila, darkness be gone!
The action only began somewhat closer to the end of the book, in the final chapter before the epilogue when Dunia re-emerged as her true self, the princess of Peristan (fairy world) now Queen after her father was killed by one of the dark jinn, to avenge her father’s death and killing the four dark jinn. Dunia did not fight the war on her own, of course. She had the assistance of her strangely mismatched team made mostly of her children from her womb: Jimmy Kapoor aka Natraj Hero, Geronimo Manezes, and Teresa Saca Cuartos. With this chapter coming to an end, I myself knew that I would soon be arriving at the end of my magical and supernatural journey as well. From the early chapters when Dunia first presented herself to Ibn Rushd and gave birth to so many children who bore the mark of the jinn deep within their inner selves.
As I turned the last page, I heaved a sigh of relief. It was over. It was a heavy burden to carry, having read a book of so many possibilities and truths. There were so much magic, spellbinding. It was also a fairly difficult book to read, particularly because of the many long paragraphs and way too many commas in each long sentence. Otherwise, it was a great piece of work that drew you in from the moment you started reading. It left me yearning for more every time I finished reading a chapter, desperately wanting to know what will happen in the next chapter and so forth.
Now, I’ll be reading The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, and I’ll be back next time with a review of it.