The Moor's Last Sigh | Critical Review by Nancy Wigston

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of The Moor's Last Sigh.
This section contains 355 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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Critical Review by Nancy Wigston

SOURCE: A review of The Moor's Last Sigh, in Quill and Quire, Vol. 62, No. 4, April, 1996, p. 25.

Below, Wigston offers a positive review of the audio version of The Moor's Last Sigh.

Actor Art Malik read The Moor's Last Sigh, Rushdie's latest tour de force, in what is a near-perfect marriage of medium and messenger. As the doomed Hari Kumar in the BBC opus The Jewel and the Crown, Malik embodied the tragedy of the Indian caught between East and West a teasing reference to Rushdie's own saga.

Malik's strong, well-mannered tone almost holds this typically unwieldy Rushdie narrative (think Midnight's Children) in check through betrayals, murders, births, deaths, lusts, upheavals so numerous they verge on tedium. But he is best-as is the novel-in the domestic bits, when he reads in the Indian-accented dialogue. Here the story really leaps to life, free for a time of its greatest drag, the Moor himself.

Heir to a huge spice empire in Cochin—a tangled dynasty of Indians, Jews, and Portuguese—the Moor recounts family history as he expires in a graveyard in Spain. But his story—which never strays far from his mother Aurora—mainly takes place in India. Mother India and the Moor's mother are explicitly enmeshed. Aurora is also the "most illustrious of our modern artists." Betrayed and banished by art, mother, homeland, the Moor unwinds his "scandalous skein of shaggy-doggy yarns."

Trouble is, his is a surfeit of scandals. Even the most assiduous listeners will falter in this forest of plots and counterplots. Places and people who seemed so rounded eventually fade into caricature, weighed down by allusions. This is not to say this novel is not shot through with brilliance, perfectly wrought scenes, and memorable eccentrics. If it can't quite bear its own weight, so be it.

Read by the mellifluous Malik, Rushdie's tale comes neatly packaged in six manageable portions. There is, however, a danger that audiences will be seduced into inattention while following the wily author's twists, turns, and verbal pyrotechnics. Might I suggest Random House label it with a warning: "Caution. Do not listen while driving in rush hour or operating heavy machinery."

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This section contains 355 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Nancy Wigston