YMMV: The Satanic Verses

  • Just Here for Godzilla: It's a very long book, most of it is set in 80s London, but most readers who read the book, come for the historical setting in Jahilia, which was the source of controversy. This section comprises at best 120-130 words of a 700-odd page book.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In the weeks following the fatwa, the novel shot to the top of bestseller lists worldwide, ultimately earning Rushdie approximately $2,000,000 in its first year of publication alone (about $4,000,000 today). Seriously, the Ayatollah should have gotten half of that money!
    • Rushdie would disagree. He pointed out that most of the money went to security which he has mostly had to pay on his own, it also went into alimony and child support over the end of his second marriage, which broke as a result of the fatwa and of course the payments to the families of the people who died.
  • Offending the Creator's Own: A major reason why this book caused such an upset and backlash.
    • Rushdie had identified himself as an atheist before the book but he was still considered a Muslim-origin author even by religious groups. His previous books had criticized corrupt political leaders in India and Pakistan and featured characters who grew up in Muslim communities. He had also worked in social causes in Britian dedicated to eroding discrimination faced by immigrants based on their skin and religion. When the book came out, Rushdie recieved rebukes and criticism from many groups and individuals who had formerly considered him one of their own, and the fatwa was essentially intended to mark him as Category Traitor.
    • The other problem is that as a result of aniconism, the Small Reference Pools the west have towards Arabic and Islamic culture, The Satanic Verses was the first serious work of fiction written for a western audience that depicted the narrative of the Prophet and likewise written by someone who knew it from the inside. Rushdie, in addition to being raised in a liberal Muslim family had also studied history in Cambridge and heavily researched the origins of Islam. The fact that Rushdie's own depiction of the Prophet is highly respectful and that he feels that Islam had a progressive quality at its roots didn't filter to the large number of protestors either. Though the book was defended by a number of Middle-Eastern authors in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon who wrote a book of critical essays discussing the idiosyncratic depiction of religion in the book.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Oh, yeah.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: It is most definitely meant to be symbolic and not merely one symbol, but multiple symbols at the same time. The subject indeed is what does "Satanic" or "Profane" culture really mean in the late 20th Century.