Author: Salman Rushdie
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publishing Date: 1998
Cost: Rs. 333 (Paperback), Rs. 296.80 (Kindle Edition), Rs. 2,699 (Hardcover)
This dazzling collection of short stories explores the allure and confusion of what happens when East meets West. Fantasy and realism collide as different stories pans out like: a rickshaw driver writes letters home- describing his film star career in Bombay, Indian diplomats, who as childhood friends hatched Star Trek fantasies must boldly go into a hidden universe of conspiracy and violence; and Hamlet's jester is caught up in murderous intrigues. With one foot in the East and one foot in the West, this collection reveals the oceanic distances and the unexpected intimacies between the two.
In Rushdie's hybrid world, an Indian guru can be a redheaded Welshman, while Christopher Columbus is an immigrant, dreaming of Western glory. Rushdie allows himself, like his characters, to be pulled now in one direction, then in another. His style always has an inclination towards the cultural complexity.
The book is divided into three main sections, entitled ‘East’, ‘West’, and ‘East, West’, each section containing stories from their respective geographical areas. In the ‘East, West’ section both worlds are influenced by each other, namely:
1. The Harmony of the spheres
2. Chekov and Zulu
3. The Courter
Though Rushdie himself never divulged the exact inspirations for his stories in East, West, it is commonly thought that the central themes of each of his stories are drawn from his personal experiences as an immigrant in England during the time of the fatwas issued against his life.
Many stories focus on the conspiracy theories, like Chekov and Zulu, in which two spies research the potential connection between wealthy Sikhs in Britain and the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Other stories focus on the similarity of the two cultural modes, like in the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’ which is about mental illness, mental health.
Rushdie weaves in many pop cultural references into his stories, just as television and Western media such as MTV and movies like Rambo have become popular throughout the world and on the Indian subcontinent. The influence and travels of Indians and Indian culture is also shown in the West.
About the Author:
Of Indian origin, Sir Ahmad Salman Rushdie born on 18 June, 1947 is one of the best living writers in English. Combining historical fiction with magical realism, Rushdie has been courting controversy ever since Midnight's Children was published in 1981. The novel went onto win the Booker Prize. He is the author of six novels: Grimus, Midnight's Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981 and the James Tait Black Prize; Shame- winner of the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger; The Satanic Verses, which won the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel; Haroun and the Sea of Stories which won the Writer's Guild Award and The Moor's Last Sigh which won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. He has also published a collection of short stories East, West, a book of reportage The Jaguar Smile, a volume of essays ‘Imaginary Homelands’ and a work of film criticism ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
Salman Rushdie was awarded Germany's Author of the Year Award for his novel The Satanic Verses in 1989. In 1993, Midnight's Children was voted the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In the same year, he was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He is also Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His books have been published in more than two dozen languages.