Haroun and the Sea of Stories Critical Essays

Salman Rushdie

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES is a novel in the form of a fable, a postmodern allegory disguised as a children’s book whose seriousness cannot be separated from its joyous celebration of the storyteller’s art. The hero of the book is himself the son of a storyteller, as is the reader acrostically inscribed on the dedication page, Rushdie’s own son, Zafar, from whom he has been separated since the late Ayatollah Khomeini issued his death sentence against the author of THE SATANIC VERSES (1988). Haroun’s troubles begin when his mother leaves her husband, Rashid Kalifa, for a man opposed to fable, more firmly grounded in fact. Distraught, Rashid, the Ocean of Notions and Shah of Blah, loses his gift of gab, his ability to tell stories. In a dream, Haroun comes to the rescue. Guided by a Water Genie named Iff and traveling on the back of a mechanical bird named Butt, he goes to Kahani, Earth’s other moon, to convince the Wizard of Oz-like grand Comptroller of P2C2Es—Processes too Complicated to Explain—to restore his father’s supply of story water. Nothing is simple, however, not even on Kahani, where war is about to break out between the gentle, credulous, light-loving, ever chattering, and the shadowy Chupwalas, led by the fearsome Khattam-Shud, “the Prince of Silence and the Foe of Speech,” whose very name means “the end” and whose plan, the opposite of Haroun’s, is to put an end to all stories by poisoning the sea and plugging its source....

(The entire section is 522 words.)