Random. Sept. 2019. 416p. ISBN 9780593132982. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780593132999. F
This latest from Rushdie (The Golden House) is nothing but extraordinary. Our main character, Quichotte (an alternate spelling of Quixote), is an aged, poststroke Indian American traveling pharmaceutical rep who is confused about the boundary between TV and real life and inhabits a netherworld of fantasy. He is enamored of a mega-famous Indian American talk show host, Salma R., to whom he writes beautiful love letters. On a second level, the book overtly narrates the writing of the main story through the character of the author. This brings an added level of interiority, exposing and commenting upon the process of the novel in progress. The life of the author and that of Quichotte mimic each other, Quichotte’s story taking place across America and the author’s centered on London. Both converge on opioid abuse, the loss of father-son connection, and estranged brother-sister relationships, though Quichotte’s story goes the extra mile to include the imminent destruction of the earth with an escape portal to alternate dimensions as the cure.
VERDICT This incisively outlandish but lyrical meditation on intolerance, TV addiction, and the opioid crisis operates on multiple planes, with razor-sharp topicality and humor, delivering a reflective examination of the plight of marginalized personhood with veritable aplomb. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/19.]
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