Grimus

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Overview

After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing, and ultimately the burden, of living forever. Eventually, he grows weary of the sameness of life and journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis, and he sets out to scale the island's peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series...
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Grimus

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Overview

After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing, and ultimately the burden, of living forever. Eventually, he grows weary of the sameness of life and journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis, and he sets out to scale the island's peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face-to-face with the island's creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A fireworks of a book: beautiful, funny, and endlessly surprising.” —Ursula K. Le Guin

“A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day. . . . Thunderous and touching.” —Financial Times

“Grimus is one of those novels some people will say is too good to be science fiction, even though it contains other universes, dimensional doorways, alien creatures, and more than one madman. . . . A book to be read twice . . . Grimus is science fiction in the best sense of the word. It is literate, it is fun, it is meaningful, and perhaps most important, it pushes the boundaries of the form outward.” —Los Angeles Times

“Ambitious, strikingly confident.” —The Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140147315
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/15/1990
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie is the author of eight novels: Fury, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Moor’s Last Sigh, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the “Booker of Bookers”), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Grimus, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published a book of reportage, The Jaguar Smile, and an earlier collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands. He lives in New York and London.

Biography

Born in Mumbai, India, and educated in the U.K., multi-award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie is considered one of the most important and influential writers of contemporary English-language fiction.

Rushdie freelanced for two London advertising firms before turning to a full-time writing career. He made his literary debut in 1975 with Grimus, a sci-fi fantasy that made a very small splash in publishing circles. However, he hit the jackpot with his second novel, Midnight's Children, an ambitious allegory that parallels the turbulent history of India before and after partition. Widely considered Rushdie's magnum opus, Midnight's Children was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981. (Twelve years later, a panel of judges named it the best overall novel to have won the Booker Prize since the award's inception in 1975; and in 2005, Time included it on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.)

Undoubtedly, though, the book that put Rushdie squarely on the cultural radar screen was The Satanic Verses. Published in 1988 and partially inspired by the life of the prophet Muhammad, this erudite study of good and evil won the Whitbread Book Award, but achieved far more notoriety when Muslim fundamentalists condemned it for its blasphemous portrayal of Islam. The book was banned in many Muslim countries, a fatwa was issued by the Iranian Ayatollah, and a multimillion dollar bounty was placed on Rushdie's head. The novelist spent much of the 1990s in hiding, under the protection of the British government. (In 1998, Iran officially lifted the fatwa, but threats against Rushdie's life still reverberate throughout the Muslim world.)

Even without the controversy inspired by The Satanic Verses, Rushdie's literary fame would be assured. His novels comprise a unique body of work that draws from fantasy, mythology, religion, and magic realism, blending them all with staggering imagination and comic brilliance. He has created his own idiom, pushing the boundaries of language with dazzling wordplay and a widely admired "chutnification" of history. His books have won most major awards in Europe and the U.K. and have garnered praise from critics around the world. Britain's Financial Times called him "Our most exhilaratingly inventive prose stylist." Time magazine raved, "No novelist currently writing in English does so with more energy, intelligence and allusiveness than Rushdie." And the writer Christopher Hitchens lamented in the Progressive that were it not for the death threats against him, Rushdie would surely be a Nobel laureate by now.

In addition to his bestselling novels, Rushdie has also produced essays, criticism, and a book of children's fiction. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The citation reads: "Ahmed Salman Rushdie -- author, for services to literature."

Good To Know

Rushdie was short-listed for The Literary Review's Bad Sex Award in 1995 for The Moor's Last Sigh, which included such verses as "For ever they sweated pepper ‘n' spices sweat."

Rushdie participated in a two-day, U.S. State Department conference entitled "Why Do They Hate Us?" for 50 diplomats in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rushdie's first novel was a literate sci-fi fantasy entitled Grimus. Although it made only a very small splash in publishing circles, the book was deemed outstanding enough to be selected by a panel of distinguished writers (including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, and Arthur C. Clarke) as the best science fiction novel of 1975. However, at the last minute, his publishers withdrew the book from consideration, fearing that, if he won, Rushdie would never be able to shake the label of "genre writer."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ahmed Salman Rushdie
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 19, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bombay, Maharashtra, India
    1. Education:
      M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Read an Excerpt

After drinking an elixir that bestows him with immortality, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next 700 years sailing the seas with the burden of living forever. Eventually he grows weary of the sameness of life and journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis and he sets out to scale the island’s peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face to face with the island’s creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity.

Author Biography: Salman Rushdie is the author of eight novels: Fury, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Moor’s Last Sigh, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the “Booker of Bookers”), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Grimus, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published a book of reportage, The Jaguar Smile, and an earlier collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands. He lives in New York and London.

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Reading Group Guide

The first novel by one of our greatest novelists, restored to print by the Modern Library

After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing, and ultimately the burden, of living forever. Eventually, he grows weary of the sameness of life and journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis, and he sets out to scale the island's peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face-to-face with the island's creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity.

1. Why does Flapping Eagle drink the elixir that makes him immortal? What are the consequences of living forever?

2. How would you describe the world of Rushdie's novel? What does it remind you of? What elements make it otherworldly?

3. In the epigraph Rushdie quotes T. S. Eliot: "Go, go, go, said the bird; human kind/Cannot bear very much reality." What does this tell you about the novel and about Flapping Eagle?

4. Grimus has been described as a quest novel. What is Flapping Eagle seeking? Does he find it?

5. What are the roles of Virgil Jones and Dolores O'Toole? What kind of guides do they make?

6. As Flapping Eagle makes his way up the mountain of Calf Island, what does he learn about Grimus and the Grimus Effect? Who is Grimus?

7. At the novel's end, how would you describe Flapping Eagle's achievements?

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