Bowdoin Reads

Tara Rajiyah is reading...

East, West: Stories
by Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is, perhaps, the most beloved and controversial author of our time. His works have conjured up feelings of both admiration and anger. In 1989, the religious leader of Iran issued a fatwa against him because of his questionable depiction of the prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Verses. Rushdie, then, is as much a celebrity as he is an author; although, arguably he is better at the latter. Thus, it was surprising to me that I only stumbled upon his works two years ago in a literature course. Since then I have grown addicted. East, West is an anthology of short stories that explores the latitudinal extremities of the globe and the mixing of these two different worlds. In this collection, Rushdie departs from his standard magical realism but the stories are anything but bland. His writing is imaginative and dynamic and he not only reinvigorates the English language and plays with perspective and word orders but also reinvents history and the traditions set forth by East and Western culture. My favorite story was “Chekov and Zulu.” In this particularly story, east meets west and two Indian diplomats stationed in England face the consequences of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The story, whose ending is both alarming and expectedly historical, is poignant and undercurrents of cultural tension and desire for both the origin and novelty are rampant.

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