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'This is Rushdie at his most flamboyant best' John Sutherland, Financial Times

Los Angeles, 1991. Maximilian Ophuls is knifed to death on the doorstep of his illegitimate daughter India, slaughtered by his Kashmiri driver, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the Clown. The dead man is a World War II Resistance hero, a man of formidable intellectual ability and much erotic appeal, a former United States ambassador to India, and subsequently America's counter-terrorism chief. The murder looks at first like a political assassination but turns out to be passionately personal.

This is the story of Max, his killer, and his daughter - and of a fourth character, the woman who links them all. The story of a deep love gone fatally wrong, destroyed by a shallow affair, it is an epic narrative that moves from California to France, England, and above all, Kashmir: a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed.


A brilliant symphony... Exceptional... One of Rushdie's best novels yet


Extraordinary... Worth engaging with at every level; a thrilling story told in thrilling language

Erica Wagner, The Times

Shalimar the Clown is Rushdie's most engaging book since Midnight's Children. It is a lament. It is a revenge story. it is a love story. And it is a warning

Jason Cowley, Observer

Deeply disturbing and immensely moving... An exquisite, broken thing of pain and beauty


Excellent... A characteristically daring walk along the tightrope of fiction

Sunday Telegraph

This is an important book... Wonderful

The Times

I'd say it's his best novel yet

Daily Telegraph

There are some breathtakingly eloquent passages


Passionate, well-informed

Theo Tait, London Review of Books

The story is exciting and memorably analyses the way in which fanaticism can wreck the most inoffensive lives

Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday

Shalimar unites the gaudy, romantic love-revenge-death conceits of grand opera with the down-and-dirty preoccupations of contemporary politics... Here are rollicking storytelling, virtuosic language, a smidgeon of magical-realist special effects and, yes, dead-on dialogue

Dan Cryer, Newsday

There are great sweeping set-pieces, like the maharajah's abortive banquet just after Partition, as the old tolerant order is swept away in a thunderstorm that recalls the climactic scene in Midnight's Children. There are reams of biting satire on the Indian army's myopia or the intransigence of the jihadists, a potpourri of portents, a clash of multi-dimensional symbolism, and also, amid the gradual assemblage of tragedy, unexpected flashes of comedy

David Robinson, Scotsman

Shalimar the Clown finds [Rushdie]...writing at his best

Evening Standard

Rushdie is back on tip-top form with his inimitable high-octane prose

Tatler Magazine

Rushdie combines the wonder of fairy tale with the grittiness of hard, political realism


Like his best work, it traverses tumultuous passages of national history

Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph

A sprawling tale of love and politics... A daring aesthetic and political balancing act that traffics in many of the major concerns of post-colonial literature, but always within an evolving and bravely empathetic story... One of Rushdie's best, and an important and rewarding must-read

National Post

Read Shalimar the Clown for the effervescent fun factor that is always present in Rushdie's work...and for its devastating portrait of the destruction of Kashmir

Globe and Mail

A masterly deployment of interconnected narratives spanning six decades... Dazzling... A magical-realist masterpiece that equals, and arguably surpasses, the achievements of Midnight's Children, Shame and The Moor's Last Sigh... The Swedes won't dare to offend Islam by giving Rushdie the Nobel Prize he deserves more than any other living writer. Injustice rules

Kirkus Reviews

The transformation of Shalimar into a terrorist is easily the most impressive achievement of the book, and here one must congratulate Rushdie for having made artistic capital out of his own suffering, for the years spent under police protection, hunted by zealots, have been poured into the novel in ways which ring hideously true... Shalimar the Clown is a powerful parable about the willing and unwilling subversion of multiculturalism

Publishers Weekly

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Formats & editions

  • EBook


    May 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    416 pages

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  • Paperback


    October 2, 2006


    416 pages

    RRP $26.99

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