The Moor’s Last Sigh / Salman Rushdie

The Moor, Moraes Zogoiby, is the narrator of the da Gama-Zogoiby family history.  It is a tale of matriarchs, premature deaths, and family disputes traced through four generations.  It begins with Francisco da Gama who establishes the family’s presence in the spice trade in British ruled India at the turn of the twentieth century.  Through the years, the family emerges as a dominant force in the business world of an independent India.  In the end, his father becomes a famous crime lord behind the business’s facade.  The focus is on Aurora da Gama, his mother, who becomes a famous national artist, supported by her Jewish husband, Abraham Zogoiby.  The Moor himself is the last-born child of four.  He comes into the world with a deformed hand and an aging disease where his body ages twice as fast as normal.  Yet in the end, he is the remaining member of the family’s crumbled dynasty. While it is the women of the family who dominate, the men behind the scenes play an important part in the story the Moor imparts.  It is an intricate tale that is multi-layered, and I found it engaging from beginning to end.  With references to ancient and modern cultures, Rushdie brings to the page the personal history of India during the twentieth century.  I had read several of Rushdie’s earlier novels and had been impressed by his extraordinary prose style.  But in this novel for the first time I was able to truly connect to the story he was relating.  For those who feel that Rushdie is too challenging an author to tackle, I recommend this book to prove otherwise.  His masterful wordplay, wit, and use of humor are all on display here.  In The Moor’s Last Sigh he has created a book not only magnificent in scope, but one that is readily accessible to the average reader. Combining the comic and fantastic, he delivers a story that will captivate and charm those who care to tackle this wildly inventive novel.

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