Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Shame" By Salman Rushdie

The book has been on my bookshelf for a long time, but hadn't been picked up. It's an old book as well; written a while ago. When I did finally read it though, I absolutely loved it & I am glad I read it when I did. If I had read it 30 years ago (roughly when it was written), it may have seemed excessively pessimistic. But reading it in retrospect, in light of where Pakistan is today, it reads like a crystal ball of a book. A country (and a world) which chose to ignore every warning that the book hoped to give it.

As far as Rushdie & political novels go, I'm not sure I liked it as much as 'Midnight's Children' simply because I'm not sure whether he's got the essence & texture of Pakistan right (I know very little of the Pakistani society), but it is every bit as powerful, hard-hitting, frank and possibly more opionated than 'Midnights Children' was. Rushdie makes an appearance in the book many times as the narrator with his sometimes-strong, sometimes-equivocal views on politics, religion & religious zealots, women, rootlessness, freedom of speech, and the partition, among others. It's such a multi-layered book where the story of two families seeks to explain the story of Pakistan & the story of Pakistan seeks to explain the story of two families.

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