Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
Random House, New York, 2010
Borrowed from the library.
Salman Rushdie is a master storyteller. He has written dense, historically relevent novels for adults and two books for young people, both of which are enchanting. Any adult reader who enjoys myths and magical stories will love them.
Luka and the Fire of Life is actually a sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories but reading that first book is not a prerequisite to enjoying the second.
Luka’s father, Rashid Khalifa, a master raconteur and adventurer, has fallen into a strange sleep. Luka and his companians, Bear the Dog and Dog the Bear, must travel into the Magic World to save his life.
Of course Luka knew all about the World of Magic. He had grown up hearing about it from his father every day, and he beleived in it, he had even drawn maps and painted pictures of it – the Torrent of Words flowing into the Lake of Wisdom, the Mountain of Knowledge and the Fire of Life, all that stuff; but he hadn’t believed in it the way he believed in dining tables, or streets, or stomach upsets. It was only real the way that stories were real while you were reading them, or heat mirages before you got too close to them, or dreams while you were dreaming. From page 29.
But now the World of Magic is all too real, and dangerous and Luka must find his way to the Fire of Life. Along the way he meets people and magical creatures familiar to him, from his father’s stories and his brother Haroun’s adventures. He also meets many unfamiliar, strange and terrible beings. There are unloved Gods and Goddesses who behave very badly, virtual lives gained and lost as in a video game, and many references to modern culture, all written in beautiful, crazed poetic language filled with story and myth.
This book is celebration of the power of friendship and of love. It is also a tribute to the power and importance of stories. How they nurture us as children and as adults. How if we lose them we lose a part of ourselves and by remembering them we gain courage and overcome fear. How they can open our hearts.