19 June 2008

Salman Rushdie, East, West, 1994

Nine stories, three of Indians in India, three that exhibit aspects of Rushdie’s own peculiar way with Western fictional forms, and three of Indians living in England. Those middle three are notable for their imaginative diversity but they don’t sit well with the rest: we have a bizarre (and somewhat unreadable) abstraction on Hamlet, a scenario where fictional characters are infiltrating the real world at an auction of Dorothy’s slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and a courtship with Queen Isabella in the fevered mind of Christopher Columbus (a story which, somehow, has Bruce Chatwin written all over it). The remaining six more straightforward stories show how Rushdie makes the act of spinning very engaging tales of ordinary Indians and their families look easy, including the very original ‘Chekov and Zulu’, something which could qualify as a piece of very Indian and very erudite Star Trek fan fiction.  PY


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