"The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie

En una exuberante épica moderna, el autor británico de origen indio entrelaza elementos de mitología, religión e historia hindúes e islámicas mientras difumina los límites entre realidad y fantasía. Una novela expansiva que se convirtió en su condena a muerte.

Bandera USA
Molly Malcolm

Speaker (American accent)

Bandera UK
Sarah Davison

Speaker (UK accent)

Actualizado a

469 The Satanic Verses Cordon b

Escucha este articulo


The fourth novel by Salman Rushdie is an imaginative work of historical fiction with elements of fantasy and satire. It is also one of the most controversial books of the late 20th century: its perceived blasphemy led to tensions with the Islamic community that escalated into extremist violence. Nevertheless, the Indian-born novelist still insists that the novel is not about Islam at all, but about Bombay (now called Mumbai), London, migration and identity.


The novel intertwines different narratives across a timespan of hundreds of years. Central to the story is the relationship between two Indian Muslims: Bollywood star Gibreel Farishta and voice actor Saladin Chamcha. At the start, they are falling towards the English Channel from the debris of a plane. As they do so, Gibreel begins to transform into the archangel Gabriel and Saladin into a devil. The two become co-dependent, each echoing and reacting to the other. To show this, Rushdie joins up different names and words: 

“The two men, Gibreelsaladin Farishtachamcha, condemned to this endless but also ending angelicdevilish fall, did not become aware of the moment at which the processes of their transmutation began.”

"Los dos hombres, Gibreelsaladin Farishtachamcha, condenados a esta angelodemoníaca caída sin fin pero efímera, no se dieron cuenta del momento en que comenzaba el proceso de su transmutación”.


Washed up on the coast, the survivors feel “born again”, but also caught between different cultural identities. Saladin is arrested as a suspected illegal immigrant. Escaping to London, he discovers his English wife in bed with his best friend. He is then summoned back to Bombay as his father is dying. There, he feels just as foreign as in England, and is given advice by a former girlfriend.

“‘If you’re serious about shaking off your foreignness […] then don’t fall into some kind of rootless limbo instead  […]  You should really try and make an adult acquaintance with this place, this time. Try and embrace this city, as it is, not some childhood memory that makes you both nostalgic and sick. Draw it close. The actually existing place.’”

"Si estás decidido a desprenderte de tus tendencias extranjerizantes [...] no te dejes caer ahora en una especie de limbo desligado de todo. [...] Esta vez deberías tratar de establecer con esta tierra vínculos de persona mayor. Trata de abrazar esta ciudad como es, no como un recuerdo de la infancia que te causa nostalgia y dolor. Acércatela. Tal como es”.


Gibreel’s adventures are more interior. He pursues romance with a mountain climber, and begins to plan his comeback as an actor. Mainly, though, he broods, and his nightmares “leak into his waking life.” In his mind, Gibreel travels to a city called Jahilia, where an embellished story is told of the founding of Islam. There, a businessman-turned-prophet called Mahound is rising to prominence. The details of this dream, as well as the name Mahound — an insulting name for the prophet Mohammad — are provocative. The author offers some explanation. 

“Here he is neither Mahomet nor MoeHammered; has adopted, instead, the demon-tag the farangis hung around his neck. To turn insults into strengths, whigs, tories, blacks all choose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn.”

“Aquí no es Mahomet ni es MoeHammered, sino que ha adoptado el mote demoníaco que le colgaron los farangis. Insultos convertidos en blasón: whigs, toties, blacks, todos optaron con orgullo por el nombre que se les daba con desdén”.

The word ‘farangis’ means foreigners or Europeans, while the name Mahound was sometimes used during the Middle Ages by Christians to insult Muslims. Rushdie suggests that Muhammad or “the Prophet” has appropriated or “owned” the derogatory name as a means of resisting racism. 


The novel raises questions about the nature of belief and doubt, both in the clash between religions and in conflicts between individuals. Rushdie suggests that we create falsehoods to demonise others, and these falsehoods are then reflected back upon us.

“Our own false descriptions to counter the falsehoods invented about us, concealing for reasons of security our secret selves. A man who invents himself needs someone to believe in him, to prove he’s managed it. Playing God again, you could say.”

“Nuestras propias falsas descripciones para contrarrestar las falsedades inventadas sobre nosotros esconden, por razones de seguridad, nuestra personalidad secreta. El hombre que se inventa a sí mismo necesita a alguien que crea en él para demostrar que ha conseguido lo que se proponía. Otra vez haciendo de Dios, dirán ustedes”.

The immigrants continuously reinvent themselves in response to their new surroundings. This is in part intentional and in part reactive, and the easy division of the men into good or evil is confused throughout the novel. The devil Saladin appears to have good intentions but takes a terrible revenge before the end. The angel Gibreel resolves to kill Saladin but rescues him instead. Later he kills the woman he loves, and commits suicide!


On its publication, The Satanic Verses was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. However, within a year, a religious edict had been issued that called for the author to be killed. Today, while most reject the extremist position, one criticism seems fair: that the novel, as The New York Times said, “does little to educate a woefully ignorant and prejudiced Western public about the Islamic faith.”  

00 PORTADA 464

Este artículo pertenece al número de april 2024 de la revista Speak Up.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Classic Books

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Pasados más de tres siglos, esta célebre novela satírica continúa hoy vigente; una cumbre de la literatura universal que es a la vez un relato de aventuras y una crítica sobre la construcción de las sociedades modernas.

Julian Earwaker

The Life of a Millennial Nun
Tony Greaves


The Life of a Millennial Nun

La vida de la mayoría de los millennials gira en torno las redes sociales, los estudios y el trabajo. Pero también hay jóvenes que escogen una vida muy diferente, como esta monja de clausura de un monasterio en Nueva Jersey. Hablamos con ella para que nos explique cómo es su día a día y nos cuente cómo descubrió su vocación.

Talitha Linehan

More in Explore

Crema inglesa: historia, receta y cómo servirla

Tips and resources

Crema inglesa: historia, receta y cómo servirla

La crema inglesa es una de las cremas básicas de repostería. Se elabora con muy pocos ingredientes y está deliciosa sola o como acompañamiento de otros postres. ¡Aquí tienes la receta paso a paso!

Julia Nigmatullina


Medical English: Lifting the Language Barrier in Health


Medical English: Lifting the Language Barrier in Health

El sistema de salud pública del Reino Unido ha iniciado una campaña para acercar el lenguaje médico al gran público y favorecer así las comunicación entre los pacientes y los profesionales sanitarios.

Conor Gleeson