Salman Rushdie is one of the world's most important writers of politicised fiction. He is a self-proclaimed controversialist, capable of exciting radically divergent viewpoints; a novelist of extraordinary imaginative range and power; and an erudite, and often fearless, commentator upon the state of global politics today. This critical study examines the intellectual, biographical, literary and cultural contexts from which Rushdie's fiction springs, in order to help the reader make sense of the often complex debates that surround the life and work of this major contemporary figure. It also offers detailed critical readings of all Rushdie's novels, from Grimus through to Shalimar the Clown.
straightforwardly embody an Orientalist discourse about the non-West, but articulate discrepancies internal to those discourses. It also allows him to argue that counter-hegemonic texts, though they are unable to achieve a critical relationship with dominant hegemonic discourses from outside , are able to disrupt those discourses from within. In this way, Said is able, without needing to locate a position of ‘pure’ knowledge outside of discourse, to offer a description of politicisedfictions that
rechart and then occupy the place in imperial cultural
illusions that bind them to perceive the world as their ruling class requires. The politicisedfiction, for Brecht, may thus be ‘realistic’, even if it is not ‘realist’, as long as it commits itself to ‘discovering the causal complexes of society [and] unmasking the prevailing view of things as the view of those who are in power’ – both of which ends Rushdie’s fictions, Shame included, seem to achieve admirably. 32
Revealingly, Rushdie cites just this argument in an interview in which he defends his lack of interest in fictional realism. ‘I