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Monday, December 06, 2010

Book Review: Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie


When Salman Rushdie published Haroun and the Sea of Stories, I wondered what it would be like to have Salman Rushdie as my father. And I wondered again with Luka and the Fire of Life. I suppose it would be like having a ringleader or parade master as a parent (like the Pied Piper but the nice fairy tale version, not the one where the kids die).

(Random House has a channel with a number of Rushdie interviews and book trailers.)

If you’re too pressed to watch the trailer, know this ... at the age of 12 Luka’s brother Haroun crossed the border into the magical world, and such is the case this year for 12-year-old Luka. The adventure begins one fateful day in the land of Alifbay, when Luka curses a circus master and causes mass revolt by the animals. A bear named Dog and a dog named Bear (who dance and sing) become Luka’s loyal companions. And it’s a lucky thing too because shortly after Luka’s father Rashid, the legendary storyteller of Kahani, falls ill and only Luka can save him by entering the magical world and stealing the fire of life. It’s super handy to have a magical dancing bear and singing dog.

Parents (like children) can often be very demanding.

Luka’s exceedingly treacherous task is recorded as a series of video game levels with lives earned and lost. And, it doesn’t feel like a forced metaphor. Rushdie neatly brings this element to the story in a mad-hatter kind of way that really works.

I love quirky, magical books and Luka and the Fire of Life is no exception. Delightful, magical, and, as expected, well written.

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
published by Knopf Canada


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