I got Satanic Verses around 6 years back. I couldn’t read it beyond few pages. The same reason which made it the most unread bestseller. Hard English. His allusions move all over the planet. You need to know a lot of history and literature to catch-all those allusions. I recently found this source, which listed all the allusion made in the book. Finally, I was able to read it from front to the back, without skipping boring chapters.
The book is about immigrants in London, mostly Indian, who came there around 60s-70s and living there in 80s. It paints a good picture of 80s. Margaret Thatcher in London and Rajiv Gandhi in Delhi. People loving film stars like Sri devi, Vinod Khanna, etc. Many events described in the book were actually happened. I learned many facts about India. I feel that the story attempts to point at certain hippocracies and behavioral clichés of the people–both British and immigrants–and its effect on their own life. I think that this book has done it well.
The fatwa. The controversial part was dreams of a character called Gibreel, who was very successful film star in India. He was very religious man. Once he started having series of dreams, which lead him to lose faith, and by the end he goes mad. These dreams were not random. They are closely related to some real events. One of them was controversial. It was based on Prophet Mohammed’s life. In this dream, story takes satirical look at prophet´s life. Some part of it simply makes fun of the prophet. Rushdie’s main crime was not that he made fun of the prophet but he seriously challenged the legitimacy of the prophet, which lead to the fatwa.He wrapped it all in a fiction, which many say obscene. There has been serious criticism about weakness of plot. It is hard to make sense out of the fiction.
All in all I liked the book. I wish to meet someone who has read this book and disliked it. I want to discuss what makes this book bad to some people, except fanatic muslims.
( You may find this video on youtube (In 12 parts) interesting. It is a talk by some Muslim cleric to explain what is wrong with Satanic Verses. Noticed that he is speaking in London. So, he is only focusing on the obscene part of the book rather then the blasphemy part. Quite smart of him. Here is another video by the same cleric speaking in South africa. Here, he deals with actual blasphemous material. He waste lots of time in saying random things but it is worth watching it if religion interest you in anyways. )