Book: Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990)
Author: Salman Rushdie (1947-)
Connection with ABC-TV’s LOST: The official LOST website is not currently maintaining their LOST Book Club entries. However, an excellent fan site, Lostpedia, has been keeping up with the books on the show. You can find the entry for this book here. The title apparently comes from Kathasaritsagara (”ocean of the streams of stories”), which is a collection of tales from India compiled in the eleventh century.
Desmond is seen reading the book on Flight 815 (in a “flash sideways”) during the Season Six premiere. A theme of the book is how stories are mixed together to make a new story, something which the book and LOST illustrate. The name “Haroun” is a version of the name “Aaron,” who happens to be the only child born on the Island. Haroun is instrumental in saving the moon Kahani’s ocean and bringing peace to its inhabitants. Could it be that LOST’s Aaron will somehow be instrumental in bringing peace to the Island?
Review of the Book
Salman Rushdie is most famous for his controversial book, The Satanic Verses, which was the catalyst for him being targeted by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran in 1989. Haroun and the Sea of Stories was the first book published by Rushdie after the controversy began.
Haroun is a children’s story, promised to the author’s son, Zafar, to whom the book is dedicated. The title character faces challenges as he seeks to restore has father Rahsid’s “subscription” to the Sea of Story, from which he gets his inspiration in making up stories.
Besides being a great adventure for children, the book also has an appeal to adults who will find it filled with various themes, including: the importance of imagination and story; the frustrating effects of censorship; how seclusion can lead to misunderstandings between cultures, and the power of love. Allusions to well-known stories, such as Alice in Wonderland, and pop culture, such as the Eggheads and the Walrus from the Beatles song, can also be found.
The the moon Kahani (story) has two cultures, Gup (meaning “gossip,” “nonsense,” or “fib”) and Chup (”quiet”). Gup in on the light side of the moon, and Chup is on the dark side. The contrast is between a culture that does not allow freedom of expression and one which expresses itself so much that much of what is expressed is pure nonsense. Perhaps the point is that Chup needs freedom, while Gup needs to learn to be responsible.
Which brings us back to the contrast between Fate and Free Will that is a main theme on LOST. Religion and society seem to gravitate from one extreme to the other. On one side are societies that are all about control – everyone is told exactly what to do. On the other side are societies where freedom is the ultimate – no one is told what to do. One is totalitarianism, the other anarchy.
But what is needed is a balance between the two. Whether the society is a benevolent monarchy or a direct democracy, those who have the power must act responsibly with the good of others being the primary focus. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
God’s desired rule of our lives is often referred to as the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven. But God is not interested in establishing a tyrannical rein, but in showing us what is best for us. In fact we are told that his plan for us is that we would rule with him (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). He has a plan, and he wants for us to be involved in it.