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Grimus
Cover of Grimus
Grimus
A Novel
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"A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day . . . Thunderous and touching."
Financial Times
After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing–and ultimately the burden–of living forever. Eventually, weary of the sameness of life, he journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis and sets out to scale the island's peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face-to-face with the island's creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity. Salman Rushdie's celebrated debut novel remains as powerful and as haunting as when it was first published more than thirty years ago.
"A book to be read twice . . . [Grimus] is literate, it is fun, it is meaningful, and perhaps most important, it pushes the boundaries of the form outward."
Los Angeles Times
"A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day . . . Thunderous and touching."
Financial Times
After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing–and ultimately the burden–of living forever. Eventually, weary of the sameness of life, he journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis and sets out to scale the island's peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face-to-face with the island's creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity. Salman Rushdie's celebrated debut novel remains as powerful and as haunting as when it was first published more than thirty years ago.
"A book to be read twice . . . [Grimus] is literate, it is fun, it is meaningful, and perhaps most important, it pushes the boundaries of the form outward."
Los Angeles Times
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  • From the book I

    Mr Virgil Jones, a man devoid of friends and with a tongue rather too large for his mouth, was fond of descending this cliff-path on Tiusday mornings. (Mr Jones, something of a pedant and interested in the origins of things, referred to the days of his week as Sunday, Moonday, Tiusday, Wodensday, Thorsday, Freyday and Saturnday; it was affectations like this, among other things, that had left him friendless.) It was five a.m.; for no reason, Mr Jones habitually chose this entirely random time to indulge his liking for Calf Island's one small beach. Accordingly, he was tripping goat-fashion down the downward spiral of the path, trailing in the nimbler wake of a hunchbacked crone called Dolores O'Toole, who had an exceptionally beautiful walnut rocking-chair strapped to her back. The strap was Mr Jones' belt. Which meant he was obliged to use both his hands to hold his trousers up. This kept him fairly preoccupied.

    Some more facts about Mr Jones: he was gross of body and short of sight. His eyes blinked a lot, refusing to believe in their myopia. He had three initials: V. B. C. Jones, Esq. The B was for Beauvoir and the C for Chanakya. These were historical names, names to conjure with, and Mr Jones, though no conjurer, considered himself something of an historian. Today, as he arrived at the dead greysilver sands of his chosen island, surrounded by the greysilver mists that hung forever upon the surrounding, sundering seas, he was about to make his rendezvous with a small historical event. If he had known, he would have philosophized at length about the parade of history, about the historian's inability to stand apart and watch; it was erroneous, he would have said, to look upon oneself as an Olympian chronicler; one was a member of the parade. An historian is affected by the present events that eternally recreate the past. He would have thought this earnestly, although for some time now the parade had been progressing without his help. However, because he was shortsighted, because of the mist and because he was trying to keep his trousers on, he didn't see the body of one Flapping Eagle floating in on the incoming tide; and Dolores O'Toole was spared the trouble of being an audience.

    Sometimes, people trying to commit suicide manage it in a manner that leaves them breathless with astonishment. Flapping Eagle, coming in fast now on the crest of a wave, was about to discover this fact. At present he was unconscious; he had just fallen through a hole in the sea. The sea had been the Mediterranean. It wasn't now; or not quite.

    The crone Dolores placed the rocking-chair on the sands. Mr Jones supervised approvingly. The rocking-chair faced away from the sea and towards the massive forested rock of Calf Mountain, which occupied most of the island except for the small clearing, directly above the beach, where Mr Jones and Dolores lived. Mr Jones sat down and began to rock.

    Dolores O'Toole was a lapsed Catholic. She sometimes took unholy pleasure in the act of stimulating herself with church, or roman, candles. She did this because she was separated from her husband but not from her desires. Her sometime spouse, Mr O'Toole, ran a drinking establishment in K, the town high on the slopes of Calf Mountain, and she disapproved of K in general, of drinkers in particular and of her husband most particularly of all. She gave vent to this disapproval by living in isolation with Virgil Jones (far from K, from Mr O'Toole's bar and from his favourite place of recreation, Madame Jocasta's notorious bawdy-house). And every Tiusday at dawn she carried Mr Jones' rocking-chair to the beach.

    —Crestfallen, murmured Mr Jones to himself,...
About the Author-
  • Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve novels—Grimus, Midnight's Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and The Sea of Stories, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights—and one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published four works of nonfiction—Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line—and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 1, 1991
    When Flapping Eagle, the immortal hero of this fantasy, tires of existence, he travels to Calf Island, home of Grimus, the man who granted him eternal life, and shakes things up a bit. In its 1979 review, PW termed this an ``artful first novel. . . . There are a few passages where Rushdie seems to be trying too hard, but in general, after a slow start, the book takes off like Flapping Eagle's namesake.''

  • Ursula K. Le Guin "A fireworks of a book: beautiful, funny, and endlessly surprising."
  • Financial Times "A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day. . . . Thunderous and touching."
  • Los Angeles Times "Grimus is one of those novels some people will say is too good to be science fiction, even though it contains other universes, dimensional doorways, alien creatures, and more than one madman. . . . A book to be read twice . . . Grimus is science fiction in the best sense of the word. It is literate, it is fun, it is meaningful, and perhaps most important, it pushes the boundaries of the form outward."
  • The Times Literary Supplement "Ambitious, strikingly confident."
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Grimus
A Novel
Salman Rushdie
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