Reversing Before and After in Shame

David Washburn, English 27, Postcolonial Studies, Brown University, Autumn 1997

Rushdie uses a sense of timelessness in which the before and after are often reversed. In addition, we cannot always distinguish the exact setting in which he places his charcters.

"The country in this story is not Pakistan, or not quite. There are two countries, real and fictional, occupying the same space, or almost the same space. My story, my fictional country exist, like myself, at a slight angle to reality. I have found this off-centring to be necessary; but its value is, of course, open to debate. My view is that I am not writing only about Pakistan." (22)
Furthermore, the characterization of Omar Khayyam's mothers as one indivisible entity and Omar's own:
sense of being a creature of the edge: a peripheral man... 'a fellow who is not even the hero of his own life; a man born and raised in the condition of being out of things. Heredity counts, dontyouthinkso?' (18-9)
It seems that a lack of identity permeates the novel shown by Rushdie's use of timelessness, placelessness, and selflessness. While some of this could be explained for political reasons, what is the purpose of the odd characterization "of our own peripheral hero, the doctor, Omar Khayyam Shakil." (107) Can you think of other novels in which the protagonists were of the same peripheral nature? What end did this technique serve in those novels?

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