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Shame (novel)

From Academic Kids

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Shame book cover

Shame was Salman Rushdie's third novel, at 300 pages. The theme of the novel is Pakistan. Rushdie wrote this after his Midnight's Children, whose theme was India.

Roughly speaking, Shame is a novel about Pakistan and about the people who ruled Pakistan. One of the main aims of the novel is to portray the lives of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and their relationship. The more central theme is the violence that is born out of shame. There are characters that actually 'stand' for 'shame' and 'shamelessness' - Sufiya Zinobia and Omar Khayyam respectively. There is magical realism and there is the usual magical writing that characterises Rushdie's novels.

When one reads the novel carefully, though, the city being portrayed is an imaginary one, the city of Q. The author-narrator makes it clear in the second chapter of the novel that the city of Q. is an imaginary representation of any country: "My view is that I am not writing only about Pakistan" (Rushdie, 29). Shame discusses heritage, authenticity, truth, and, of course, shame and shamelessness, as well as the impact of all these themes on an individual, the protagonist Omar Khayyam.

The unique gift of storytelling, more than the use of magical realism, is astonishing in this novel, which is not surprising when one is diving into Rushdie´s world.

It is recommended that one reads Rushdie´s article "Imaginary Homelands" before reading any of his novels, for in this article, the author explains the heart of all his works.


Bibliography: RUSHDIE, Salman. Shame. Vintage: London, 1995.

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