Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: The Prophet's Hair by Salman Rushdie

The Prophet's Hair The Prophet's Hair by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is available online at https://www.lrb.co.uk/v03/n07/salman-... . I read somewhere that the inspiration for this story is that the real life Prophet's Hair relic kept at Hazratbal Mosque in Srinagar, Kashmir went missing in December 1963 and was retrieved about two weeks later.

While Rushdie's overly long sentances irritate me, this story is a beautiful example of storytelling, full of comedic tragedy, worthy of incorporation in 1001 Nights. Its core story is timeless, and would make a great oral rendition to adults and children alike. It is a moralistic fairy tale in which the theft of a religious relic brings catastrophe upon the greedy.

Hashim, the moneylender, is a collector of fine things. One day he finds a vial floating in the water. It contains a silver pendant bearing a single strand of human hair. It is the Prophet's Hair, stolen only the previous day from the Hazratbal mosque. However, the relic is cursed and it transforms the moneylender, changing his behaviour to such an extent that his family are very concerned. His son Atta and daughter Huma plan to remove the relic from thier father's possession. The 'Thief of Thieves' Shiekh Sín is hired to burglar their house and steal it from their father in return for Huma and her mother's jewelry.

Needless to say things do not go as planned. The curse reigns havoc and the members of both Hashim and Sín's families are affected by the relic's curse, but not all as not as deleteriously as one might expect! Some receiving just deserts and others some quiet surprising justice.

I read this story as part of Salman Rushdie's short story collection East, West. My Book Review

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