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Victory City

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The author uses his vast intellect and historical research to create a mythology that only scholars of India will appreciate.
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This was a very odd read, but I would expect no less from Salman Rushdie.  Reading this was like being stuck in a fever dream.  Definitely add this to your collection.
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ughhh I was really excited about this one, but it was a mess. This book was supposed to be about Pampa Kampana a nine year old girl who becomes a vessel for a goddess and is given the task "to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world". So of course the first thing that happens in this book is that Pampa is repeatedly raped throughout the rest of her childhood by a monk. And later on when to men come with a gift of a bag of seeds, instead of using her goddess magic to make her own kingdom - she blesses the seeds with magic and gives it back to the brothers so they can be the kings of her kingdom... She also is the one that creates and whispers the dreams of all the people in her kingdom... but somehow these people are naturally misogynist against women being in power... MAKE IT MAKE SENSE... did I mention that her rapist rises to power and she never tells anyone what he did? throw the whole book away and read Kaikeyi instead.
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Every man may come and go and live according to his own creed. Great equity and justice is observed to all, not only by the rulers, but by the people, one to another.

The medieval City of Victory in southern India, Vijayanagara, is reimagined in this story. Founded by pastoralist cowherd brothers Hukka and Bukka, it became a prominent empire that inspired a strong literary tradition. In the mythology of this book, the land is sown with magical seeds to create a city of tolerance where peace is valued and women have equal agency. In this fictional version of the empire renamed Bisnaga, politics, religion, and territorial competition play out as they still do to thwart the best of hopes. It is a sad critique of how easily good intentions collapse in the face of reality and how today, centuries later, things have not changed.

I wish I could say that I fell into this read, but I think my readiness to read mythology was not aligned. It is certainly an outstanding work from a literary icon who has beautifully crafted a thought-provoking story.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ebook.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I had heard of Salman Rushdie before picking this up, but it was my first read from him. I enjoyed the writing style -- the prose felt elegant but was still relatively easy to digest, and the book contained numerous references to other stories, myths, and real-life events which helped contextualize certain events. It definitely emphasized the message that words have power, and offered several satirical/humorous moments even as it explored more serious topics. It was also interesting to read this retelling of Indian mythology and history, especially since I've heard about Vijayanagara before from my own family. Although this rendition of Pampa Kampana's story was not as feminist as I had expected, I do think it offers some interesting discussion points regarding how privilege and power structures are impacted by religion, education, and race/ethnicity. I can see this as a novel that remains popular for ages, and it has intrigued me enough to pick up some of the author's other works. If you enjoy slower-paced novels that have a timeless feel, I'd recommend Victory City.
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This is a saga of magic realism, telling the centuries-long story of a kingdom in India.  When she was a child,  Pampa Kampana saw her mother and other community women walk into flames and die.  That shaped her view of women and community for the next two and a half centuries.  Several years later she planted the seeds that grew into a kingdom that transformed many times, depending on the ruler and Pampa Kampana's participation in the reign.  As skilled and elegant as Rushdie's prose is, I have to admit that I found the names of characters and places difficult to follow and the narrative perhaps longer than necessary.
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Victory City was unlike anything I’ve read before. The idea of a goddess gifting Pampa Kampana the ability to create a city and be an integral part of its trajectory, it’s rises and falls throughout almost 250 years, is fascinating. It forces one to think about destiny and the ability to manipulate history. Pampa Kampana clearly had the ability to influence the people of Bisnaga, but it begs the question of: should she have done this? Did it make a significant impact? Or did it delay the inevitable? Is the influence of one, even if it is a goddess-inspired diety, enough to change the natural urgings of human beings? 

I thoroughly enjoy books that make me think outside the box. I like being stimulated to think in terms of “what if?” and explore ideas that I haven’t considered previously. This was a good story, but I also feel like it was a bit drawn out and, if I’m being completely honest, kind of depressing.
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Thank you @penguinrandomhouse for the gifted copy of Salman Rushdie’s Victory City. I have been slowly savoring the tale of Pampa Kampana this past month. I also thought that this was an appropriate book to review today. 

What happens when you read a novel, and are mind-blown to the point that no words can justify the power that Rushdie’s newest novel has. I began reading it a month ago, and had been savoring it every minute without wanting to end. Set in the medieval Vijaynagara “Victory City” and told in a recovered medieval epic form. 

 At the heart of this profound and thought provoking novel is Pampa Kampana, a young girl who witnesses an intense death of her mother. But, as she is making sense of her trauma, a Hindu goddess gives her the gift of prophecy and immortality. This power leads her to lay the seeds of the Bisnaga empire, where she seeks and cultivates the goal of gender equality by resisting patriarchal rule and celebrating religious tolerance in the empires. She is met with obstacles throughout the four hundred years she lives. As a queen and consort, she witnesses the majestic city change rulers, her daughters interacting with kings from other countries. As she fearlessly rules the city, often other kings, trusting her with the power until one day when conspiracies in the court turn the king against her and the court advisor leaving her to be blinded by an angry rival. She is often accused of witchery for being able to prophesize the future. The novel ends with these poignant words “All that remains is the city of words. Words are the only victors.” 

This is Salman Rushdie’s fifteenth novel, and after his brutal stabbing last year, it is clear that the author has made a successful return by writing implementing a powerful epic of political triumph and imaginative storytelling.
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Victory City by Salman Rushdie is an interesting book. I have waited years to read one of Rushdie’s books, to see what the buzz was all about. I couldn’t have been more disappointed. The prose was probably lovely, in small doses. The story was based on Indian legend, always interesting, but it went on and on. His prose gets to be too much after a while. It was interesting at first, it’s always interesting to experience another culture. In this case I didn’t get enough of the experience. My curiosity has been satisfied. 

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of Victory City by Random House, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #RandomHouse #SalmanRushdie #VictoryCity
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When I found out that there was a new Rushdie novel so soon after his life-threatening attack, I was certainly curious to see what I’d think about it. 

Victory City. 

It’s hard to describe it as anything other than a sprawling epic that starts with a grief-stricken nine-year-old named Pampa Kampana and the city she creates. 

She will whisper an empire into existence - but all stories have a way of getting away from their creators . . . 

There was something both magical and compelling about Victory City. This was a novel that seemed both perfectly placed in the historical context of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries while feeling surreal at the same time. 

There was beauty and nuance in the 250 year life of Pampa Kampana. Her triumphs, her failings, and the empire she whispered into existence had me on the edge of my seat. 

That tension was despite the fact that I had no background on the real-life Vijayanagara-Bisnaga empire. 

Throughout this novel, Pampa Kampana was a crafty, devious, earnest, real main character. Even though the city (and later, empire) of Bisnaga was a main character itself, I was drawn in by the creator of the city rather than the city itself.

Victory City was just as much about the impact of storytelling, language, and cultural memory as it was about Pampa Kampana, the city of Bisnaga, and the empire that rose and fell in the course of these pages. 

Hubris looms large with several characters falling victim to it in this book. Feminism and the vicious backlash to its advances is also surprisingly explored here. 

In some other reviews, I noticed some of the literary and historical easter eggs that I skipped over and missed on my reading adventure. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was one that was shockingly compelling, but there was more. There were references to the Biblical Babylonian exile, the perilous winged flight of Daedalus and Icarus, the appearance of the burning bush to Moses, the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, the hiding of Joshua by Rahab, the rise and fall of the Roman and Egyptian empires, and an extremely thinly-veiled reference to the Renaissance 

Victory City is a compelling book that I’m extremely glad I read. It was a rich tapestry full of references that I missed because I was so drawn in by the story itself. 

It is worth every second, minute, and hour of your time to give it a thorough read.

Until next time, keep your bookmarks close. 

Peace, Love, Pages.
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Although I have been aware of Salman Rushie’s work for years and own copies of three of his other books, Victory City is the first I have read.  It will not be the last. 

 This unusual novel opens by telling of twenty-four thousand recently rediscovered verses chronicling the history of a long-forgotten Indian civilization. The narrator and alleged reader of Pampa Kampana’s manuscript claims to be “neither a scholar nor a poet but merely a spinner of yarns.” According to this narrator, the story that follows is simplified prose version of Pampa Kampana’s lengthy poem. 

When little Pampa is orphaned at nine, a goddess’s voice speaks through the child’s mouth.  It announces that a great city will arise where her mother died, that Pampa will fight for the cause of women, and that she will live long enough to see her success and failure before being forgotten for four and a half centuries.  Appropriately, the prose version based on her poem consists of four parts: "Birth," "Exile," "Glory," and "Fall."

Early in part one, readers learn how Hukka and Bukka, two of five rogue brothers, help young Pampa Kampana grow a city in the rocks and dust, how she whispers a non-existent history into the newly created people’s ears, how Hukka becomes king and she his queen, and how a Portuguese horse trader names the city, captures Pampa’s heart, fathers her (and Hukka’s) children, and changes the future by introducing explosives.  Pukka, Chukka, and  Dev, the other  three rogue brothers, soon arrive wanting a piece of the action. As Hukka and Bukka remain in the new city where women are lawyers, traders, architects, poets, and soldiers, they assign female commanders and armies to their brothers, dispatching the three in different directions to conquer territories and create an empire. As Chukka puts it:  “Finally something that makes sense.  Let’s go to war and bring peace to the land.” 

Part two finds Pampa Kampana her daughters with Bukka, Hukka’s successor on the throne, and two male allies going into self-imposed exile for safety’s sake in the magical Forest of Women where birds serve as her spies and messengers while she awaits her return to the throne. 

Fantasy-filled and peppered with satire, Victory City will evoke laughter while sometimes seeming all too real-- ways of thinking that have played roles in modern history and that one might dare say still play roles today.  As the fictional narrator and reader of Pampa Kampana’s recently discovered manuscript explains, he writes for readers’ “simple entertainment and possible edification.”    

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance reader copy.

Shared on Barnes and Noble.
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This was just an ok read. The premise failed to deliver a tale of female empowerment and leadership. Any role where Pampa had power to sway the dire tion and growth of Bisnaga was either while a king sat the throne and supported her ideas or left her as regent or protectorof the throne. Having read other fantasy stories that follow the style of Indian epics, it was clear to see the influence here, but yet Rushdie did the e act same by pigeon-holing his powerful female characters.

I felt like I wanted the story developed more when it came to Pampa and her role in Bisnaga. She definitely fell to the wayside when it came to the men who ruled and in this I felt that this story did nothing to distinguish itself from any other male-centric fantasy epic.
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Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC.

Victory City is not really a long book but it did take me a while to finish. I feel like it's the kind of book you can't rush reading it. I enjoyed the political aspects as well as the relationships between Pampa Kampana and the other characters, especially the friendships towards the end. This book is kind of sad but the history of the city is really interesting. Rushdie's prose was not my type, but that's only because of my poor attention span. The story itself is kind of depressing since you know from the beginning what is going to happen in the end, but the journey to get there was very enjoyable. I enjoyed the different dynasties and attitudes of the people in the city.
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Rushdie's imaginative storytelling powers have brought us many amazing works. This historical novel is a sweeping epic but there's a lot going on all at once. The narrative pacing didn't quite work for me because of how it picked up when it should have slowed down and vice versa. Despite all that, the book is a one-of-a-kind novel and, because this is Rushdie in his seventies, has a lot to say about, well, a lot of things. Never a boring moment, that's for sure.
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Victory City is quintessentially Rushdie: complicated, humorous but serious , satirical, referencing practically everything going on in the world at the moment. Sometimes, reading it is hard going, but mostly it carries the reader along at a breathless clip. Anyone who knows Rushdie's work will find it familiar but not predictable. The rewards are, as always with Rushdie, more than worth the journey.
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Victory City was a wonderful, engrossing read. I loved reading about Pampa, her talents as a prophetess, and the culture of the Victory City. Rushdie uses wonderful language and touches upon myths, fables, the effect of religion on society, and much more. I loved the theme of stories, who tells them, what is to be believed.
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The great storyteller Salman Rushdie triumphantly returns with a new work of fantasy. The narrator of this story relates a rediscovered epic poem written in Sanskrit by Pampa Kampana, giving the history of her city Bisnaga, created by her own magical powers which were given to her by the goddess who inhabited her. She lives for 247 years and in that time, she sees the empire she created rise, fall, rise again and fall again. 'Words are the only victors.' A great tale of love and adventure and the innate violence of humanity from the master. 

I received an arc of this novel from the author and publisher via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.
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Salman Rushdie’s brilliance cannot be overstated. He is a consummate storyteller. His mastery of character and humor, along with the archetypal draw of mythology are on full display in Victory City. 

It is a mature work that goes beyond the context of country, religion, or genre. It is the story of the ancient empire of Vijiyanagara, but moreso, it is the life cycle of many individuals and cultures that we can all recognize.

Thank you to Salman Rushdie, Random House, and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Victory City
By Salman Rushdie

This is yet another Rushdie book full of adventure, magic, and mysticism. It is the story of Pampa Kampana, a woman who, through a gift of the gods,  lives to be 247 years old and through the years she ages very slowly.

The tale begins when Kampana, as a young child, watches her mother commit herself to the flames, leaving her daughter behind.  Kampana finds refuge of sorts with a supposedly pure monk who rapes her repeatedly over the years.  This is her introduction to the duplicity of men.

But Kampana has been gifted with certain magics by the gods.  Together with two cowherders, she raises up a city complete with citizens from a bag of seeds.  She is the mother of the city – and subsequent empire of Bisnaga - and will be witness to its rise to glory and its eventual downfall.  She chronicles the tale in her epic poem, the Jayaparajaya.

This is a typical Rushdie novel.  While some parts of the tale are realistic – especially the individual characters – other aspects are in the realm of the metaphorical.  But as always the writing is wonderful.
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Pampa Kampana witnesses her mother's  self-immolation following her home Kingdom's defeat. A goddess takes pity on the devastated child and makes her an instrument in the creation of the greatest city of the 14th through 16th century. She gives the girl seeds to spread, which grow into citizens, and Pampa's whispers give those people their pasts and stories. Victory City rises, a place where men and women are equal, business flourishes as well as art and culture.

Of course, that doesn't last long. Pampa Kampana will live throughout Victory CIty's 250 years, but she has decreasing influence as this novel becomes more about warring kingdoms than what a wise queen can do to to shape a society. Rushdie's prose is beautiful as usual, funny, playful, and at times brutal. But the story feels like a slack thread, slumping and pulling taut, then slumping again.

It finally wore me out. There was so much possibility here. Victory City needed more women's influence and power to make it into the phenom that was supposed to be. That's the kind of magic I know Salmon Rushdie can bring.
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