Salman Rushdie's Two Years Eight Months Twenty Eight Nights (Hamish Hamilton, out on September 10) is a delightful read, plunging you into an epic war of the worlds, between jinns and humans, between good jinns and bad jinns.
From climate change to suicide bombers, from a country which has recently rejected a party of National Relatives in the general election to Bombay where the wide skirt has been replaced by the narrow mind, it has everything to ignite one's senses and spark mini fires.
In an interview to me, published in the latest issue of India Today (which you will have to buy to read), Rushdie says a sense of humour is always a useful tool when reading his books. Well, fellows who recognise themselves in the book - people who are experts in the art of forbidding things and people who are involved in the construction of the national machine that produces only glory - will not be too happy.
But then Rushdie, the most famous prisoner of our collective conscience, has never much cared for convention.
So why else should you read Rushdie's latest novel, his first after seven years?
Here are five reasons:
1. The women are the heroes
From ''bad girl'' Teresa Saca to New York Mayor Rosa Fast, from the Storm Baby of Asian ethnicity to Princess Dunia, the world is ultimately saved by women. Powerful women, women who stand up for themselves, who may not always be virtuous but they are always wise. "I have always believed that women are the superior sex and nothing has happened in my life to change my mind," he told me. "Men, by contrast, are simple beings."
2. His heart is in the right place
Rushdie loves the underdog and he hates anything that is unjust - he is never afraid to make enemies, even echoing his late friend Christopher Hitchens in saying Mother Teresa was in the "death business". He rails against innocent young men being denied love and sex and being asked to follow a loveless God with their guns, bombs and their suicide belts. He takes on those who are experts in the art of forbidding things: ''In a very short time, they had forbidden painting, sculpture, music, theatre, film, journalism, hashish, pool tables, clean shaven chins (on men), women's faces, women's bodies, women's education, women's sports, women's rights. They would have liked to have forbidden women altogether but even they could see that that was not entirely feasible, so they had to contend themselves with making women's lives as unpleasant as possible." Hmmm. Now I wonder who could he be referring to?
3. He is a master of trivia
Did you know the camel's weird mating ritual or that the sexual organ of the lion is bedecked with ''spines that face backwards so when it is withdrawn it rakes the walls of the lioness' vagina in a way that may or may not be pleasurable''? Now this is something I really needed to know.
4. He is a fan of slowness
Slow food, slow books, slow entertainment. "We have forgotten the pleasures of the old slownesses, of the dawdles, the browses, the three volume novels, the four-hour motion pictures, the thirteen-episode drama series, the pleasures of duration, of lingering." Thank God, we've not forgotten Rushdie.
5. He loves movies
Movies are referenced throughout the book, from X-Men to Jet Li, from Dimple/Simple to even Anjaana Anjaani, a terrible concoction starring Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor. I asked him whether he'd seen this movie, because I had to, in my then avatar as film critic, but what was his defence? This is what he said: "I once had the good fortune to have lunch with Priyanka Chopra in New York, and she was filming something of the sort at the time". So will he do more cameos after Bridget Jones and Then She Found Me? He says: "I’m open to offers." Quickly, someone, cast him.