Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, By Salman Rushdie

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Do you understand why you are still alive? she asked Jimmy Kapoor, as, blushing, he pulled a bed sheet around himself. ‘Yes’ he replied, his eyes filled with wonder. ‘Because you saved my life’. That is so, she conceded, inclining her head. But you would have been dead before I reached you, crushed to bits in the great Urn, if it wasn’t for the other reason.

She saw his fear, his disorientation, his inability to process what was happening to him. She couldn’t help it. She was about to make his life even harder for him to grasp. I am going to tell you some thing you will find hard to believe, she said. Unlike almost any other human being you have entered the Urn, the pathway between the worlds, and survived, so you already know that another world exists.

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Twelfth-century philosopher Ibn Rushd, in a detail from The Triumph of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Benozzo Gozzoli. Photograph: Alamy

I am a person from that world, a jinnia, a princess of the tribe of the bright jinn. I am also your great-great- great- great- great- great- great-grandmother, though I may have omitted a great or two. Never mind. In the twelfth century I loved you great- great-et-cetera-grandfather, your illustrious ancestor the philosopher Ibn Rushd, and you Jinendra Kapoor, who can’t trace your family history back further than three generations, are a product of that great love, maybe the greatest love there ever was between the tribes of mean and jinn. This means that you, like are all the descendants of Ibn Rushd, Muslim, Christian, atheist or Jew, are also partly of the jinn. The jinni part, being far more powerful than the human part, is very strong in you all, and that is what made it possible for you to survive the otherness in there; for you are Other too.

‘Vow,’ he cried, reeling. ‘It isn’t bad enough being a brown dude in America, you’re telling me I’m half fucking goblin as well.’

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Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, By Salman Rushdie

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. More…

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The Triumph of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Benozzo Gozzoli.

 

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