BB-Reader Review: "Victory City"
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BB-Reader Review: "Victory City"
Reader Review: "Victory City"

by Cathryn Conroy (Gaithersburg, Maryland): This book is fantasy—a completely made-up world where the main character possesses extraordinary magical abilities and lives to be 247 years old. And while fantasy is my least favorite genre, I am enamored of Salman Rushdie. After all, any author who has a fatwa placed on his head because of his books deserves to be read. And so I read Salman Rushdie, although this book, like most of his, is difficult.
This is more than a fantastical tale. It is a fable, a fairy tale, an allegory, a myth, a parable, and (most of all) a formidable warning against religious fanaticism. It's a lot of things. (Of course, it is. It's Salman Rushdie.) Suspend your sense of reality and get ready for a literary roller coaster ride.
It's early in the 14th century in India. Pampa Kampana is nine years old when her beloved mother followed the other women of their village into a massive, flaming pyre and burned herself to death. Bowled over in grief and totally alone in the world, the goddess Pampa spoke out of Pampa Kampana's mouth giving her magical gifts and the ability to age and never look old. She prophesized that Pampa Kampana would spend her (very long) life ensuring that this kind of mass suicide never happened again. After spending the next nine years in semi-seclusion with a religious fanatic who repeatedly raped her, she emerges when two brothers, Hukka and Bukka Sangama, find them. They are carrying bags of bean and okra seeds, and in Pampa Kampana's hands they become enchanted seeds that she uses to create a new city—Victory City or Bisnaga, as it is known. The rest of the novel is the story of this city, created from seeds with people Pampa Kampana also conjured up, whispering their memories and stories into their ears. She chooses Bisnaga's king, and she creates a life for herself where she freely loves and has sex with two men. This is a city where women are equal to men, no one religion is paramount, and the rulers are fair. Until it's not, and it all comes tumbling down.
Pampa Kampana may be magically powerful and nearly immortal, but her tragedy is that she will be left alive when everyone and everything she loves is gone. Ultimately, her fate is horrifying (as in gruesome and grisly). What began as an idyllic land conjured by magic ends in the kind of brutality only humans can visit on one another.
Highly imaginative with colorful characters and a convoluted, ever-changing plot that defies description, this is a remarkable and majestic novel about the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries with a powerful message for the 21st century.

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BB-Reader Review: "Victory City" - by Admin - 05-16-2023, 11:06 PM

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