Title: Luka and the Fire of Life
Author: Salman Rushdie
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Luka and the Fire of Life is the story of Luka Khalifa, younger brother to Haroun of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Luka is envious of Haroun, as he got to go on an adventure to Earth’s second moon in order to save their father’s storytelling abilities. Even though this happened before he was born, Luka is frustrated - when will he get to go on an adventure? Luka gets more than he bargained for, though, when his father Rashid Khalifa falls ill and it’s up to Luka to save him.
I thought Haroun and the Sea of Stories was an adorable little novel, so it was with much anticipation and excitement that I picked up Luka and the Fire of Life. Once again, the reader is plunged into the World of Magic, hoping that Luka can act quickly enough to save his beloved father.
Though Luka and the Fire of Life is a sequel, it easily stands on its own two feet. The two novels do have common elements, but reading one is not necessary to understand the other. Rushdie gives the reader a quick summary of the events of Haroun and the Sea of Stories; as a result, you know all you need to going into the story. Still, though, I do recommend reading both books, if only because they are both adorable and have their own quirks and strengths. That being said, it is definitely not necessary to read them in order, though if you are going to read both, I’d strike down the more conventional path in order to avoid spoilers.
Luka and the Fire of Life actually has the feel of a video game. Luka gains and loses lives throughout his adventures, and the World of Magic has different levels he must get through before he can reach his final goal. There are even save points, so if Luka “dies”, he won’t have to repeat what he’s already done. As someone who enjoys the occasional video game, this really appealed to me. I thought it was incredibly creative to take something that is huge in popular culture and make it literary. As this book is easy to read and a lot of fun, I do wonder if that aspect will make it appeal to younger readers who are more likely to play games than read a book.
If you aren’t familiar with video games or don’t enjoy them, I don’t think that will preclude you from enjoying the novel. Just like Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Luka and the Fire of Life is easy to read. It’s not laden down with literary devices and heavy prose; in other words, it’s a wonderful introduction to Rushdie’s writing. While Salman Rushdie is an amazing author, his works can be very daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with his writing style. Luka introduces the reader to his love of magical realism, but is short and will appeal to many different age groups.
The message of Luka and the Fire of Life is a wonderful one. The entire book is a bow to the amazing gift of storytelling and how powerful it can be. And Rushdie himself is a wonderful teller of stories, drawing the reader into a charming world. While this novel isn’t quite as hefty or deep as Rushdie’s other works, it’s a great reminder of why he’s such a celebrated author. I definitely enjoyed it, but am already looking forward, hoping to see another wonderful book from Salman Rushdie soon.