Salman Rushdie’s Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. So, naturally, I had pretty high expectations going into this book. The premise is incredibly interesting, and I was looking forward to reading another book featuring jinn after reading, and loving, Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni last year.
Philosopher Ibn Rushd falls in love with Dunia, a girl who has named herself after the world because, in her own words, “a world will flow from me and those who flow from me will spread across the world.” In the following two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights, Dunia is pregnant three times, each time producing no less than seven children. That’s because she isn’t human. She’s a daughter of the jinn. A woman made of fireless smoke.
Over eight-hundred years later, a storm hits New York City, beginning a series of “strangenesses.” Dunia’s children, who, as she predicted, have multiplied and spread across the earth, become aware of their fantastical powers. And once the veil between our world and the world of the jinn is breached, they must fight in an epic battle of light versus dark, which spans exactly two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. Or, a thousand and one nights.
I almost want to give Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights two separate ratings. It could easily get five stars for literary merit. The story is unique and well written, and the book just feels like it has literary heft to it. It’s a book that makes an impact. And while it is a fantasy, it addresses many real-world issues and presents different philosophies in very interesting ways. I really enjoyed the actual writing, and the core story was intriguing.
However, I could not force myself to care about any of the characters (there were a few I developed a passing interest in, at most). Despite being beautifully written, some of the backstory and history just bored me. There were portions of the book I did really like. But they were separated by long passages of history and backstory that I had to slog through. This book is also incredibly dense – I couldn’t sit down to read it for more than half an hour at a time, even after I started just skimming it, and actually finished three other books in the breaks I took from reading it. It wasn’t bad, but it barely excited me.
So, while I appreciate Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights for what it is, and recognize that it is technically (and I mean that in the most literal way) a good book, I just didn’t actually enjoy reading it.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.