Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rushdie bashing is the flavour of the season

After the great Indian literary spat (William D. vs Pankaj Mishra & Others), it's time for Rushdie bashing. Many of his fans have found his recently released Shalimar The Clown to be a disappointing fare. Just like his previous novel Fury and Ground Beneath Her Feet.

When I argued that the guy has been writing under tremendous pressure (couched in a different language), so give him a break, someone retorted: "Just becuase Rushdie was fatwad, had lived in exile, had married four or five times or takes four years to write a novel, doesn't mean that we have to give him grace marks as far as evaluating the literary merit of his work is concerned. With every novel, a novelist is a first time writer: s/he would be subjected to as much scrutiny and enthusiam as a debutant. And with every passing novel, the stakes actually rise. If Ian McEwan, Philp Roth, Don Delillo and Thomas Pynchon can not just live up, but actually stun us with each new work, then why not Rushdie?"

(He was reacting to my comment: "It is very easy to take potshots on a writer. Rushdie takes a couple of years to write a novel and some people dismiss it as a clownish work within days of the novel's publication. The guy is a fabulist and his work should be approached in that manner. ")

I don't have an exact answer but I recall Rushdie's words: A writer will write what's within him (or something to that effect). So, there he is.

The latest in the line of critiquing Shalimar The Clown and its author is NYT's MICHIKO KAKUTANI. She says:

Mr. Rushdie's latest book, "Shalimar the Clown," aspires to turn the story of a toxic love triangle into a fable about the fate of Kashmir and the worldwide proliferation of terrorism. But this time, the author's allegory-making machinery clanks and wheezes. Although the novel is considerably more substantial than his perfunctory 2001 book, "Fury," it lacks the fecund narrative magic, ebullient language and intimate historical emotion found in "Midnight's Children" and "The Moor's Last Sigh."

Worse, "Shalimar the Clown" is hobbled by Mr. Rushdie's determination to graft huge political and cultural issues onto a flimsy soap opera plot - a narrative strategy that not only overwhelms his characters' stories but also trivializes the larger issues the author is trying to address.

However, Rushdie's star power is still intact. My friend Susan had a brush with this piece of literary history at the Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly. She beautifully describes her experience here.


Anonymous said...

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Susan Abraham said...

Hi Zaf,
You are such a sweetie to have given me a mention.

But just to say your first comment is spam. Just go into blogger, go to Settings & under the section for Comments, they ask if you want word verification on. Say Yes. because then anyone leaving a comment will have to quote from jumbled letters & numbers, so it shows that someone is leaving a comment personally as oppossed to spam that just hits masses of blogs at the same time.

I was so lucky to have met Rushdie. His confidence & verve & courage with a smooth ability to live the author's life in its true fastidious fashion is what becomes such a source of inspiration for me personally. And the Brits really love him.

I've only read the first 56 pages or so and already, I dislike the female character India so much for the way Rushdie portrays her thoughts, I want to give her a tight slap and remove her from the book. Ahh if only...

But Rushdie looked gorgeous and so did Donny Osmond (today's entry) that I am slowly but surely dying of a romantic infactuation.

Someone like me will always be all woman first and then a writer...hee-hee!

Thank you Zafar,for your kindness.
If we meet in Singapore sometime, I'll tell you all about it.

Susan Abraham said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zafar Anjum said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for your comments, and special thanks for the word verification tip. I saw your post on Osmond. The pic is really nice.

Yes, would like to know the details later):

samit said...

hi zafar,
thanks for the kind comments. ive been reading and enjoying your blog for a while now as well, via comments you left on kitabkhana.

Zafar Anjum said...

Hi Samit,

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your foot prints. That's great!

bibliobibuli said...

Hmmm ... I agree that Rushdie has to keep on earning his keep. I agree with that commentator that every time is the first time.

I have grown exhausted by Rushdie though and am not sure I want to read more of the same from him. I know it's not very enlightened of me, but I think some authors just put out way too much. None of us has infinite reading time and I'd rather move on to find out what others have to say.