Rushdie's Style in Shame

Adam Stolorow and Irene Tung, English 27, Postcolonial Studies, Brown University, Autumn 1997

Throughout much of Shame, Rushdie reassures the reader that the story we read is really no more than a fairy tale, and that "the country in this story is not Pakistan, or not quite" (22). On pages 67-68, he further frees himself from any claims of writing about reality:

By now, if I had been writing a book of this nature, it would have done me no good to protest that I was writing universally, not only about Pakistan. The book would have been banned, dumped in a rubbish bin, burned. All that effort for nothing! Realism can break a writer's heart.

Fortunately however, I am only telling a sort of modern fairy-tale, so that's all right; nobody need get upset, or take anything I say too seriously. No drastic action need be taken either. What a relief!

Is this a case of Rushdie forfeiting "the responsibility of a third world author" (Ben's notion) or is it just a guise to cover his revolutionary and telling statements from the censors he mentions in the second line ("The book would have been banned...")? Clearly there is an amount of insincerity in his claims that this political novel is just a fairy-tale (demonstrated by the number of times he repeats his claim; if he meant it, he wouldn't need to keep reminding himself and the reader of it.). In this case, what purpose does this technique serve other than keeping the book from being banned, if that even is a real risk? I think it of an idirect means of telling us about the culture of contemporary Pakistan, since the reader receives a picture of a place where one must watch what he says, where the truth lies hidden under various guises, and where everything is indirect. [Zandra Kambysellis]

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