Now that I’ve moved away from reading fiction, I find that I face a lot of inertia to pick up something purely for pleasure. Maybe this is a nasty by-product of wanting to be as “productive” as possible. But the more I have drifted away from reading for pleasure, more mechanical the whole process has become for me. Partly to avoid this feeling, and partly because of my shame at seeing my bookshelf filled with dusty unread books, I picked up this one to assuage my feelings of guilt.
I had not expected the journey to be this beautiful!
Salman Rushdie doesn’t need an introduction. He has been routinely hailed amongst one of the best contemporary writers of our time. It only speaks of my ignorance that I had only heard about him because of his controversies - outcry for Satanic Verses, fatwa issued against him - and only knew that one of his novels, Midnight’s Children, had won a Booker Prize. I don’t have a fond memory of reading Booker Prize winning books, bitter from the day I read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. But as I got sucked into the universe created by Rushdie, my initial skepticism gave way to awe and admiration.
Rushdie has a peculiar way with words, an authoritative stance where the sentences bend over backwards to dance to the master’s tunes. He weaves them in and out and creates intricate relationships between the story, storyteller and reader. You need to be acquainted with the history of India and Pakistan, or at least be familiar with the events surrounding the partition, in order to grasp fully what he has set out here to do. The book is filled with brilliant uses of metaphors and similes, creating a parallel universe of Pakistan during the tumultuous years after partition. The sentences are measured and precise, neatly packed with an intricate plot and the social commentary (with a tinge of satire) leading you towards the destination.
If it’s not yet clear, I unashamedly loved every part of Shame and I’m excited to dig more into Rushdie’s works!