Staying in the realm of fairy tales, I finished Salman Rushdie’s Luka and the fire of life and loved it! It is a quest story about a young boy entering a magical world inhabited by mythological creatures from all over the world in order to attempt to save his father’s life. Set in the 21st century, Luka’s adventure plays out as a video game, complete with a life counter and save points, which makes this an enjoyable new take on a fairy tale.
I have been lucky enough to see Rushdie speak twice: at Lawrence University when I was a student and a year or so later at ALA in Washington DC. At ALA, after waiting in line to meet him, I got a copy of this book. Ad as you can tell from the picture, it is an advanced uncorrected proof so I am not sure what, if anything changed. When it was my turn at the table with him, rather than get this book signed, I pulled out the copy of Satanic Verses that I was in the middle of reading. For a moment, he was surprised and made a comment about how people are still reading it. But I just smiled and moved on, star-struck, only mentioning that his writing inspires me. I could have said more or articulated myself better but such is life. Still, happiness abounded that Rushdie was impressed that I was reading his seminal work. Plus, just hearing him speak, and twice!, about his life and work made me want to put my own words on the page again.
Back to Luka, Rushdie wrote this story for his second son after the boy asked for his own book since Rushdie wrote Haroun and the sea of stories for his first son. Now this isn’t a little kid’s fairy tale due to its complexities but it could be for an older kid. While I read it to myself, there are lots of quirks and theatrics that should be read aloud for full effect. In that sense, it really is made to be a kid’s fairy tale. But truly the adults will enjoy it more with its vast arrays of mythological and classical character cameos, and of course some newly created characters from Rushdie mixed in. The quest follows Luka as him works his way through nine grueling levels with doubts and triumphs, risks and success along the way. An excellent story for everyone.
Recommended?: Yes, especially if you like mythology and fairy tales. Plus, whether or not you have read Rushdie before, who can be a difficult though enjoyable read, this book is much more accessible and a good taste of how he writes. It is practically a novella 222 pages (Amazon shows 240 for the published version). I can’t wait to re-read this book, but next time Ill get the final version to see how they compare.