Book Review: Victory City by Salman Rushdie

February 7, 2023

About:

Victory City by Salman Rushdie tells of an Indian woman, a poet, who has been granted the power of a goddess. Mr. Rushdie is, of course, an award-winning author of international bestsellers.

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593243390

Book Review: Victory City by Salman Rushdie
My rat­ing for Victory City— 5
BuyVictory City from Amazon.com*
More Books by Salman Rushdie

Thoughts:

I didn’t know anything about the Vijayanagara empire when I first started reading this book. I checked out one or two web pages about it just for context. Turns out that the empire covered most of south India during the 15th and 16th centuries, an economic power trading with Europe as well as the far east. The empire was also full of modern ideas, palace intrigue, and foreign wars.

The author assured me that this book was a translation of an epic poem called jayaparājayam (victory and defeat), retold so a layman like myself could actually understand it. This layman certainly appreciated this kind gesture.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie was, surprisingly due to its subject, a cheerful journey even though the end of it is known from the start. I enjoyed the magical realism of the story, as well as the building of classes, religious conflicts, and the political implications of decisions made by members of the royal households over the centuries. There are certainly big ideas in this novel, but they are presented in a readable narrative.

Clearly, Mr. Rushdie is having fun with this book. The great empire is created with Pampa Kampana’s magic, led by two incompetent soldiers now cow herders, who become great kings (the Sangama who, I discovered, are historical figures).
An apt parallel to today’s political realism, unfortunately for everyone but those in power.

The book makes its key point with the last line after empires have fallen, kings and demi goddesses, lost their powers, and shepherds who would be kings are dead and buried. Written words have the last laugh, and are victorious.

Synopsis:

Pampa Kampana watched her mother burn herself to death. The orphan girl becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati, granting her powers of foreknowledge, youth, artificially long life, and more.

The demi-goddess is instrumental in creating a magical city, Bisnaga (Victory City), and is an integral part of it for hundreds of years to come. The task Parvati set for Pampa Kampana is to turn the patriarchal world on its head, chiefly making women equal to men.

BuyVictory City from Amazon.com*
More Books by Salman Rushdie

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Victory City by Salman Rushdie
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Wrap Up

Victory City by Salman Rushdie

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