|Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
Published by Jonathan Cape in 2010
Location: Magic World
Mode of travel: Boat, Flying Carpet
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On a beautiful starry night in the city of Kahani in the land of Alifbay a terrible thing happened: twelve-year-old Luka's storyteller father, Rashid, fell suddenly and inexplicably into a sleep so deep that nothing and no one could rouse him. To save him from slipping away entirely, Luka must embark on a journey through the Magic World, encountering a slew of phantasmagorical obstacles along the way, to steal the Fire of Life, a seemingly impossible and exceedingly dangerous task.
I got Luka and the Fire of Life through one of those serendipitous accidents of L-Space. I really wanted to read Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence which is for adults. I kind of wanted to read Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories which is the prequel to this book. The library gave me this instead. Obviously, I nearly fell over with excitement when I saw the flying carpet.
I nearly fell over some more when I started reading. I loved everything about this book – from the characters to the style to the storyline! All I wanted to know was where it had been all my life and why it wasn’t longer. I was on the verge of buying a copy for everyone I knew, certain they would love it as much as I did.
Then something happened and I got a bit bored. I eventually understood the problem. What I had loved was the dual presence of storyteller Rashid Khalifa the Shah of Blah, inventor of the Magic World, and his deviously sarcastic twin and nemesis, Nobodaddy. I must admit, there is no doubt in my mind that the pair of them might just as well be known by their other alias of Mr. S. Rushdie and I was loving spending time with him in this form. I never read any of his books before and I hadn’t expected him to be quite so… witty, sarcastic and fun to travel with, even in the shape of an evil nemesis! Whether we were trying to get lunch in the unpleasantly oversensitive and politically correct Respectorate or flying a carpet over the meandering tributaries of the River of Time, it was he who made the journey rock.
Then Nobodaddy disappears, nominally to gather his nefarious forces to a pinnacle of badness, really, perhaps, to let the title hero of the book have a go at doing things by himself. Rashid Khalifa had been a spent force for a while and somehow, without those two, the light just seemed to go out of the Magic World for me, pages and pages before it started officially disintegrating.
So it goes…