The Moor's Last Sigh

AuthorSalman Rushdie
FinishedApril 25, 2020
Rating4.2 / 5

Goodreads link

Classic Salman Rushdie book! I definitely enjoyed Rushdie's cleverness of puns, style, and writing. He covered a lot of ground. It was definitely long in span (breadth and depth). I was impressed with the level of detail he gave to every event and character. I liked the unreliability of the narratorship - which becomes extremely apparent by the end, when Moor basically says that he made up a lot of the things about Carmen and his parents because how would he know the truth? I liked the theme of narrator and how it's really dependent on the story you want to tell.

That being said, I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Not sure if it was because I wasn't able to focus and it took me too long to read. There were a lot of themes and I wasn't able to follow all of them. Maybe a lot went over my head.

I liked the strong female characters. I liked how Aurora was larger than life and Uma was sneaky but so charming. I liked how they were such large characters with such influence over the men.

Unreliable Narrator

I also really liked the unreliable narrator (because perhaps I just love all stories with unreliable narrators)

  • "It is difficult for me, after all these years, to know what to believe... The old biographer's problem: even when people are telling their own life stories, they are invariable improving on the facts, rewriting their tales, or just plain making them up... The truth of such stories lies in what they reveal about the protagonists' hearts, rather than their deeds" (135)
  • Palimpset: These theme works for the layers of Bombay
    • It also works for the physical artwork (Moor's Last Sigh)
    • And the layers that Abraham builds up for his empire
    • And of Moor and his "different versions" of himself
    • And the fact that everyone has many versions of the same story... Layers of stories

Prose I liked

  • "These days the world is full of questions, and there are new ways to be beautiful" (17)
  • "Destined for questions and quests"
  • "she had put history on the walls" (59)
  • "the dense crowd, the crowd without boundaries" (60)
  • "the Sultan sighed and hotly wept" (80)
  • "Soon after this visit by the mosquito of poetic justice, he contracted malaria of just desserts" (105)
  • "we loved her even as she destroyed us." (172)
  • "thus silence grew between them like an accusation" (223)
  • "the high-voltage eroticism of all these works" (225)
  • "i had become a kind of information magpie, gathering to myself all manner of shiny scraps of facts and hokum and books and art-history and politics and music and film, and developing, too, a certain skill in manipulating and arranging these pitiful shards so that they glittered, and caught the light. Fool's gold..." (240)
  • "Uma was a free spirit. She came and went as she pleased" (247)
  • "What mattered more? Love or truth?" (267)
  • "What do you know about me? Who I like, what I need?" (268)
    • "She was right. I knew nothing about what it might be like to be her, about the choices she had had to make, about whose arms she might turn to for comfort, or why men's arms might be places not of pleasure but of fear" (269)
  • "If you loved me you would stop shaking your poor fist, and put it here, and you would shut your sweet face, and bring it here, and you would do what lovers do" (270)
  • "Multiple selves ... her highly inventive commitment to the infinite malleability of the real, her modernistically provisional sense of truth" (272)
  • "It proves you have been the liar, the charlatan, the quick-change artist, the manipulator, the conspirator, the fake. Not me: you. .You are the rotten egg, the evil one, the devil. See! My egg is good" (281)
  • "torment, of desolations and violations" (286)
  • "and when he is flayed, when he is a shape without frontiers, a self without walls... he is farting out his life, just as once you, his mother, farted him into it" (288)
  • "But I still wanted to believe what lovers believe: that the thing itself is better than any alternative, be it unrequited, or defeated, or insane" (289)
  • about Hitler and people like him.... "it is in their humanity that we must locate our collective guilt, humanity's guilt for human beings' misdeeds; for if they are just monsters - if it is just a question of King Kong and Godzilla wreaking havoc until the aeroplanes bring them down - then the rest of us are excused" (297)
  • "we crave permission openly to become our secret selves" (305)
  • "it was an ocean of stories; we were all its narrators, and everybody talked at once" (350)
  • "Clowns! Burlesque buffoons, drafted into history's theater on account of the lack of greater men. Once, indeed, they were giants on our stage..." (352)
  • "Whisper sweet nothings in my ear" (367)
  • "the past and the future are where we spend most of our lives" (381)
  • "they wind up their clocks but time doesn't move" (393)
  • "i had arrived at a place to which people came to forget themselves - or, more accurately, to lose themselves in themselves, to live in a kind of dream of what they might have been, or preferred to be..." (402)
  • "Oh, I was lost in fictions, and murder was all around" (418)
  • "How to find meanings in the ruins of a life?" (418)
  • "Every day, after that, he brought me pencil and paper. He had made a Scheherazade of me" (421)
  • "Defeated love is still a treasure, and those who choose lovelessness have won no victory at all" (425)
  • "We were consonants without vowels: jagged, lacking shape" (428)
  • "so it was I who had gained that moment, so eternal in anticipation, so brief in retrospect" (432)