“So she became a symbol of peace, of self-sacrifice in the name of peace, for many people. There was much talk of her ‘Eastern wisdom,’ which she dismissed when it reached her ears. ‘There is no particular wisdom in the East,’ she said to Argalia. ‘All human beings are foolish to the same degree.’” (286)
A young, golden-haired man shows up at the court of the emperor of Hindoostan with a secret. A secret “which only the emperor’s ears may hear,” and a story that has traveled generations and great continents to arrive…
But what do three boyhood friends from Italy have to do with a legendary princess from East Asia? Part love story, part history lesson, Salman Rushdie beautifully weaves numerous interconnected stories, richly detailed against the background of 17th century Italy and Eastern Asia. Though these tales are abundant with beautiful strong-willed women, mysterious world-travelers, and philosophical poet-emperors, there are lessons for all of us, even if it’s just that, no matter how large the world, “All human beings are foolish to the same degree.”
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Review by A.Smith