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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Rushdie Factor

You may not have read him,but you definitely should have heard about him. The name is Salman Rushdie. If you ask me I would say he was the guy who re-invented Indian writing in English, a man who inspired a generation of readers and writers, he not only changed the way Indians looked at literature but also altered the world's perception on Indian writing. Tats it?nope.. there's a lot more to Rushdie than writing, the fatwa issued by fundamentalists for his alleged demeaning of Islam("The satanic verses controversy")is still in tact, not to forget his occasional personal-stints with women(5ex-es and still counting... the latest to join the bandwagon would be Riya-sen who is just 35 years younger to him...hmm:-( ).He has been in the news for all the good and bad reasons,whatever the controversies may be he has always remained as the face of the emerging Indian voice.

It was some ten months ago that i found the book "Midnights Children" lying un-dusted in the shelves of a neighborhood book store. I felt my desires of reading Rushdie has finally found its destiny, i bought it,dusted it kissed it, signed on it and finally shelved it!!. For those of you who has read some literature would know that in order to read the genre you have to feel at your best, no distractions, no confusions it has to be you, the book and a read that takes you near tranquility. You cannot just like that read Rushdie . I once tried reading with my mind elsewhere, and after reading some 50+ pages i was totally lost!!Not a single word had entered my mind ... mission failed. the book found its way back to the shelves and I was back to routine.

The book was waiting for me to read it and i was waiting for that state of mind- that helps you read literature. It took a while for both the ends to meet.It takes some time for you to get acquainted with his style of writing but when you are into it, it's just pure magic. Midnights children is written as a narrative of Saleem sinhai who was born at the precise moment of India's independence, he takes you through the unending journey of his past, present and the future. It is a journey through the greatest moments of Indian history told alongside the broken physche of a gifted child. A blend of magical realism and dense writing builds an enigmatic web and catches you as its prey. It is after reading Rushdie you understand his influence on indian writing be it the other booker winners from India, Arundathi Roy(god of small things) or Kiran Desai(inheritance of loss) the influence of Rushdie on their style is clearly evident.No doubt it was chosen for the booker prize in 1981 and the booker of bookers in 1994.Considered one of the best literary works of the world till date, is the epitome of Indian talent.

But i do have my share of doubts(you may even call it as my ignorance) about the Indian English literature, the story always plays a second fiddle to the narration. I never read midnights children in a single sitting or a few days it took me months.Not that i lacked the reading poweress, but the plot was not tempting i was in no hurry in knowing what is next?. I took my time ,i lost track of time in his eloquence but cared little about the plot. It was like i was mystically-handcuffed to his writing.And this contradicts my understanding of a novel, if each author is none but a story teller why is the story taking a back seat to the narration?. There will be an instance in the novel where Rushdie would have briefed the entire content of the previous 100 + pages in just two pages, what does this mean? does it mean an over usage of his writing skill or an author forgetting his main role of a story teller and becoming a master of words?? This was the case in The god of small things(which in many ways was close to my heart and my philosophies than MidnightsChildren) and the Inheritance of loss(which i feel is not worth the credit surrounding it)This was not so prevalent in books of native writers(life of pie, Amsterdam)!! Why is it so? are we so obsessed with proving the world that we can master over our masters language? or this form of writing become our only perception of literature? I need someone to shed some light!!!

Besides all my confusions and contradictions i still believe Rushdie is a phenomenon, reading him did constitute some of my best moments and he will always remain a person and author whom i adore and finally, as i had read some where

"Not to have read an author is completely by choice,
But not to have read Rushdie is .... illiterature"!!!!

For more info refer
Salman Rushdie life and times
Midnights children-wikipedia


vijay said...

You know what.. I gave up reading books after my 10th grade. The last book i read was Amsterdam by Ian McEwan - Booker price 1998.I read that book the same way how u proclaim to have read Midnight's Children. At that age i was in no mood for literature. But after reading this post i consider myself one of those illiterates. This post has influenced me to start reading again.. But i don't want to start with a Rushdie :-(

Vignesh.r(edux) said...

Same happened to me in ma school days when i tried my hand @ God of small things, aftermath i felt nausea and dizziness :))...

to start with JA, and bhagat r safe bets!!!

Milinta said...

dude i'm digging up treasure after treasure from ur blog. i've started reading Rushdie pretty recently and am in awe over his style of writing. Yet to read Midnight's Children. its next on the list. but as you say, you need to be in a certain frame of mind to read and comprehend Rushdie. Rushdie in one hand and vada pav in the other will never work. vada pav will win hands down :-)

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