Quizzers make good chefs as they are very good at cooking up juicy factoids (or what in the Age of the Wiki is known as “unverified facts” or “citation required”). One such urban legend is that of the 15-Page club – an exclusive club made up of millions of people who give up reading a Rushdie book after 15 pages.

Whether such a club exists or not is not the point. Assuming a hypothetical or notional community of readers who realise they are intellectually incapable of taking in anymore (after page 15 that is), I can say that but for one or two books, I have been a finisher (and with relish). The two books I could not finish, The Moor’s Last Sigh (after about 150 pages) and The Ground Beneath Her Feet (this one ended after 20 pages or so) . In fact the only part about this novel that I have seriously engaged with is the U2 number.

But there is one book that I have read more than three times – Haroun and the Sea of Stories. So when Luka happened “a companion to Haroun“, I had to read it of course. There is not much to spoil with sharing what the book is about because the magic is not in the story as much as it is in the narrative and the language. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in the world of riddles, magic, myths, legends and fables with simple morals, this book brings back the same old memories presented in the form of a Quest (an eternal favourite story telling device). In this Luka like his older brother Haroun and Quest-mate Frodo Baggins takes us along to meet the Insultana of Ott, the Respectorate of Rats, the Elephant Ducks (who remember everything. If there is anything they don’t remember, it means that thing never happened), the Badly Behaved Gods and his two incredible companions Dog the Bear and Bear the Dog. And of course a lot events happen which are P2C2E. The land of Kahani and the Magic world of Rashid Khalifa are as enchanting as Middle Earth or Faraway Tree or the strange lands visited by Sindbad.

Salil Tripathi writes

The novel sets its adult theme — a man growing old, his powers diminishing, facing death — in an engrossing thriller for younger readers. The ability to engage different generations is the hallmark of both novels. What also resonates in each is the central theme — freedom.

There is a neat video of the book

If you haven’t picked up your copy as yet, I suggest you do so immediately.

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