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Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Cover of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

A Novel
Borrow Borrow
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Los Angeles Times
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Harper's Bazaar • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • The Guardian
  • The Kansas City Star
  • National Post • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews

    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.
    Praise for Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
    "Rushdie is our Scheherazade. . . . This book is a fantasy, a fairytale—and a brilliant reflection of and serious meditation on the choices and agonies of our life in this world."—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
    "One of the major literary voices of our time . . . In reading this new book, one cannot escape the feeling that [Rushdie's] years of writing and success have perhaps been preparation for this moment, for the creation of this tremendously inventive and timely novel."San Francisco Chronicle
    "A wicked bit of satire . . . [Rushdie] riffs and expands on the tales of Scheherazade, another storyteller whose spinning of yarns was a matter of life and death."USA Today
    "A swirling tale of genies and geniuses [that] translates the bloody upheavals of our last few decades into the comic-book antics of warring jinn wielding bolts of fire, mystical transmutations and rhyming battle spells."The Washington Post
    "Great fun . . . The novel shines brightest in the panache of its unfolding, the electric grace and nimble eloquence and extraordinary range and layering of his voice."—The Boston Globe
    From the Hardcover edition.
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Los Angeles Times
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Harper's Bazaar • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • The Guardian
  • The Kansas City Star
  • National Post • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews

    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.
    Praise for Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
    "Rushdie is our Scheherazade. . . . This book is a fantasy, a fairytale—and a brilliant reflection of and serious meditation on the choices and agonies of our life in this world."—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
    "One of the major literary voices of our time . . . In reading this new book, one cannot escape the feeling that [Rushdie's] years of writing and success have perhaps been preparation for this moment, for the creation of this tremendously inventive and timely novel."San Francisco Chronicle
    "A wicked bit of satire . . . [Rushdie] riffs and expands on the tales of Scheherazade, another storyteller whose spinning of yarns was a matter of life and death."USA Today
    "A swirling tale of genies and geniuses [that] translates the bloody upheavals of our last few decades into the comic-book antics of warring jinn wielding bolts of fire, mystical transmutations and rhyming battle spells."The Washington Post
    "Great fun . . . The novel shines brightest in the panache of its unfolding, the electric grace and nimble eloquence and extraordinary range and layering of his voice."—The Boston Globe
    From the Hardcover edition.
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    Excerpts-
    • From the cover Very little is known, though much has been written, about the true nature of the jinn, the creatures made of smokeless fire. Whether they are good or evil, devilish or benign, such questions are hotly disputed. These qualities are broadly accepted: that they are whimsical, capricious, wanton; that they can move at high speed, alter their size and form, and grant many of the wishes of mortal men and women should they so choose, or if by coercion they are obliged to do so; and that their sense of time differs radically from that of human beings. They are not to be confused with angels, even though some of the old stories erroneously state that the Devil himself, the fallen angel Lucifer, son of the morning, was the greatest of the jinn. For a long time their dwelling places were also in dispute. Some ancient stories said, slanderously, that the jinn lived among us here on earth, the so-called "lower world," in ruined buildings and many insalubrious zones—garbage dumps, graveyards, outdoor latrines, sewers, and, wherever possible, in dunghills. According to these defamatory tales we would do well to wash ourselves thoroughly after any contact with a jinni. They are malodorous and carry disease. However, the most eminent commentators long asserted what we now know to be true: that the jinn live in their own world, separated from ours by a veil, and that this upper world, sometimes called Peristan or Fairyland, is very extensive, though its nature is concealed from us.

      To say that the jinn are inhuman may seem to be stating the obvious, but human beings share some qualities at least with their fantastical counterparts. In the matter of faith, for example, there are adherents among the jinn of every belief system on earth, and there are jinn who do not believe, for whom the notion of gods and angels is strange in the same way as the jinn themselves are strange to human beings. And though many jinn are amoral, at least some of these powerful beings do know the difference between good and evil, between the right-hand and the left-hand path.

      Some of the jinn can fly, but some slither on the ground in the form of snakes, or run about barking and baring their fangs in the shape of giant dogs. In the sea, and sometimes in the air as well, they assume the outward appearance of dragons. Some of the lesser jinn are unable, when on earth, to maintain their form for long periods. These amorphous creatures sometimes slide into human beings through the ears, nose or eyes, and occupy those bodies for a while, discarding them when they tire of them. The occupied human beings, regrettably, do not survive.

      The female jinn, the jinnias or jiniri, are even more mysterious, even subtler and harder to grasp, being shadow-women made of fireless smoke. There are savage jiniri, and jiniri of love, but it may also be that these two different kind of jinnia are actually one and the same—that a savage spirit may be soothed by love, or a loving creature roused by maltreatment to a savagery beyond the comprehension of mortal men.

      This is the story of a jinnia, a great princess of the jinn, known as the Lightning Princess on account of her mastery over the thunderbolt, who loved a mortal man long ago, in the twelfth century, as we would say, and of her many descendants, and of her return to the world, after a long absence, to fall in love again, at least for a moment, and then to go to war. It is also the tale of many other jinn, male and female, flying and slithering, good, bad, and uninterested in morality; and of the time of crisis, the time-out-of-joint which we call the time of the strangenesses, which lasted for two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights, which...
    About the Author-
    • Salman Rushdie is the author of eleven previous 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, and Luka and the Fire of Life—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

      Starred review from May 18, 2015
      In his latest novel, Rushdie (Joseph Anton) invents his own cultural narrative—one that blends elements of One Thousand and One Nights, Homeric epics, and sci-fi and action/adventure comic books. The title is a reference to the magical stretch of time that unites the book's three periods, which are actually millennia apart. In the first period (the 12th century), jinn princess Dunia falls in love with real-life philosopher and advocate of reason and science Averroes (aka Ibn Rushd) and bears multiple children. In the second period (current day), Dunia's descendants, a group including a gardener and a young graphic novelist, are unaware of their powerful lineage (despite the fact that they inherited Dunia's trademark earlobelessness). Then they witness a great storm devastating New York; worse, a slit between the jinn world and the human world opens and the dark jinn slip through. The gardener suddenly finds himself levitating, the artist hosting jinn in his room. Dunia returns to defend the human race by confronting her four fiercest enemies, one by one: Zumurrud, Zabardast, Shining Ruby, and Ra'im Blood-Drinker. Rushdie even incorporates a third period, a far-future millennium, further tying his story together across time. His magical realism celebrates the power of metaphor, while both historic accounts and fables are imbued with familiar themes of migration and separation, reason and faith, repression and freedom. Referencing Henry James, Mel Brooks, Mickey Mouse, Gracian, Bravo TV, and Aristotle, among others, Rushdie provides readers with an intellectual treasure chest cleverly disguised as a comic pop-culture apocalyptic caprice.

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    A Novel
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