Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflections: East, West

The book is a collection of short stories - stories from the East, some from the West, and finally a few that touch upon the amalgamation of East and West. Rushdie, in his characteristic style, tries to bring out the core elements that define the Eastern and the Western sides of the world, and in what ways the two sides come together, resulting in some successful communions and some disastrous ones.

Why this sudden interest in books by Salman Rushdie, you may ask. I have made up my mind to read the Booker of Bookers, his masterpiece, Midnight’s Children. I need to find out for myself why the book is so hailed. But I am extremely intimidated to start it. So, I am “easing” myself into his style of writing by first picking all the “low hanging fruits”, so to speak. I was a little disappointed with The Enchantress of Florence, although his writing was wonderful. But I am sorry to say that this book disappointed me in both the content, and the writing. Although, a short book, I took more than a week to read it, because my attention struggled to cope with the words and the story. However, I did like two stories - the first and the last, especially the last one. The last story deals with the fusion of East and West. Rushdie tells the story of immigrants torn between their homeland and their adopted home. His characters are sharp and distinct, and his words are sparse, yet strong.

His assertion is that while the East teems with mysticism, spiritualism and organic, rustic culture, the West primarily struggles to get a grounding on all the former elements in order to anchor the abundance of freedom and liberty they are lavished with. Both sides long for the attributes of the other side - well, the grass is always greener on the other side. Reaching a middle ground is easier said than done - people usually resort to extremes, or unfortunately end up mixing those aspects that are not meant to be “fused”. The dilemma regarding what to adopt, and what not to is as prevalent in the West, as it is in the East.

While the themes are interesting, barring a few stories, the majority of the stories were vague and a little too dense for my liking. 

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