The New Capital in Rushdie's Shame: One Side of Post-Colonial Culture

[Added by George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University]

The new capital was composed of numerous concrete edifices which exuded an air of philistine transience. The geodesic dome of the Friday Mosque had already begun to crack, and all around it the new official buildings preened themselves as they, too, fell apart. The air-conditioning broke down, the electric circuits shorted, flush water kept bubbling up into washbasins to the consternation of the plumbers . . . . O vilest of cities! Those buildings represented the final triumph of a modernism that was really a kind of prestressed nostalgia, form without function, the effigy of Islamic architecture without its heart, buildings containing more Mughal arches than the Mughals could ever have imagined, arches reduced by prestressed concrete to mere pointy holes in walls. The new capital was in reality the biggest collection of airport terminals on earth, a garbage dump for unwanted transit lounges and customs halls, and maybe that was appropriate, because democracy had never been more than a bird of passage in those parts, after all.

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