> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 1 May 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407018607
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

Shalimar the Clown

'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.

  • Pub date: 1 May 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407018607
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

About the Author

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is the author of thirteen previous novels – Grimus, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, and The Golden House – and one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published four works of non-fiction – Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line – and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.

Also by Salman Rushdie

See all

Praise for Shalimar the Clown

“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

Related titles