Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Breaking Rushdie News

Rushdie read an excerpt from the beginning of his new novel "Shalimar the Clown" yesterday. Googling "shalimar the clown" gives me nada, so this may have been his first public reading from the novel. Shalimar is part of a traveling village of Kashmiri entertainers. In the first chapter he is virtually raped by his girlfriend Bhumi, a half-orphan who is also part of the circus. Bhumi's mother, who died during childbirth, appears to her as a ghost at various points, and Bhumi herself is fated to have an early death, possibly during childbirth. I was glad to see that the prose style has been toned down from the baroquery of "The Ground Beneath Her Feet." The references to myths, too, are not only sparing but also diagetic. Specifically, the myths of Hindu astrology and the influence of other planets on the earth undergird the book, Shalimar having been educated in these myths by his father. The narrative oscillates between present and past events, much as it did in "The Moor's Last Sigh." Overall, the novel sounds more promising than "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" and "Fury." Its publication is slated for fall 2005.


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