Salman Rushdie Summary

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In his novels as well as essays and interviews, Salman Rushdie tackles the issue of nation from a new perspective. According to him a holistic India cannot exist: “After all, in all the thousands of years of Indian history, there never was such a creature as a united India. Nobody ever managed to rule the whole place, not the Mughals, not the British. And then, that midnight, the thing that had never existed was suddenly ‘free’. But what on earth was it? On what common ground (if any) did it, does it, stand” (Imaginary Homelands 27). It is true that India was declared independent on the nineteenth of August 1947; yet, it was also divided into India and Pakistan in the same year. Accordingly, the independence year itself was a twilight moment…show more content…
Also five English and three Russian heads of mission. Arjumand and Iskander would place bets on how long each new arrival would survive; then, happy as a boy with a new stick and hoop, he would set about giving them hell. He made them wait weeks for audiences, interrupted their sentences, denied them haunting license. (185-6) Lacking in principles, Harappa is demonized by Rushdie as a politician who is ready to bargain, to conspire, and to insult. In short, he is corruption personified. As Sarra Suleri argues: “the Iskander Harappa of Rushdie’s narrative is indeed treacherous, a figure disquietingly seamless in its available glamor. He is rarely allowed to leave the bedroom or the dinner table, where he is invariably accompanied by lovers, insults, and a daughter known as Virgin iron-pants”(148). At one level in the book Rushdie, in an ironic twist, plays Harappa’s motto “the question of national stability is no joke” (187) against the narrator’s statement that “sex drive is the top national priority” (184). Antithetical as they sound, these two statements betray the deceitful nature of Pakistani politics. A former gambler and infamous womanizer, Harappa now puts on the mantle of the pious in order to mislead the masses. Rushdie’s sharp critique of the Harappa political edifice finds its metaphorical expression in his wife’s handicraft. Embittered by her husband’s vicious nature Rani Harappa uses her domestic space as a site…show more content…
He closed down the famous old beer brewery at Bagheera so that Panther Lager became a fond memory instead of a refreshing drink. He altered the television schedules so drastically. On the prophet’s birthday Raza arranged for every mosque in the country to sound a siren at nine a.m. and anybody who forgot to stop and pray when he heard the howling was instantly catered off to jail. (247) In many respects, the narrator’s chronicle of Hyder’s regime encompasses Rushdie’s own attitude towards Pakistan in particular and India in general. Although he defines himself as atheist Rushdie permeates his text with many allusions to Islam and Islamic practices. According to Rushdie, Islam would have been a constructive discourse if it fell in the right political hands. “My point is that”, he clarifies in Shame, Islam might well have proved an effective unifying force in post-Bangladesh Pakistan, if people hadn’t tried to make it into such an almighty big deal…The so-called Islamic ‘fundamentalism’ does not spring, in Pakistan, from the people. It is imposed on them from above… This how religion shores up dictators; by encircling them with words of power, words which the people are reluctant to see discredited, disenfranchised, mocked.
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