Over the last two days, I reread one of my favorite books of all time – Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie. It’s a deeply allegorical story about a boy, Haroun, from a city so sad and old it has forgotten its name. Haroun’s father, Rasheed, is a famous storyteller, but once Haroun’s mother leaves he finds himself depressed unable to tell stories. One night, a series of coincidences lead to Haroun discovering Iff the water genie removing the story tap from Rasheed’s bathroom. He convinces Iff to take him to Kahani, earth’s second moon, a magical world, home of the sea of stories. Haroun finds himself engaged in the war between the Guppies, the story-stewards of the daylight half of Kahani, and the Chupwallas, who dwell in perpetual darkness and seek to rid the world of speech and stories under the leadership of the fearsome cultmaster of Bezaban, Khattam-Shudd.
It is a book intended for children. But that really just means that it’s accessible in a way that most other great works of fiction aren’t. Rushdie’s genius is evident in every paragraph, in the names of his characters, the complexity of some of the ideas, but also the simplicity of the story. None of it feels forced, it all flows naturally and beautifully. The world Rushdie creates is magical and fantastic, funny and very clever, but always poignant and relevant to the real world as well.
“This is, simply put, a book for anyone who loves a good story. It is also a work of literary genius.” — Stephen King
“Haroun and the Sea of Stories will, I suspect, have claims to immortality.” — A.N. Wilson
It won’t take you more than a few hours, but it’s worth every moment.