East, West

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For other uses, see East West (disambiguation).
First edition (publ. Jonathan Cape)

East, West (ISBN 0-394-28150-0) is a 1994 anthology of short stories by Salman Rushdie. The book is divided into three main sections, entitled "East", "West", and "East, West", each section containing stories whose topics center around their respective geographical areas (in the "East, West" section both worlds are influenced by each other). Though Rushdie himself never divulged the exact inspirations for his stories in East, West, it is common thought that the central themes of each of his stories are based around his personal experiences as an immigrant in England during the time of the fatwas issued against his life. Rushdie weaves in lots of pop cultural references into his stories, just as television and Western media such as MTV and movies like Rambo have become popular throughout the world and on the Indian subcontinent. The influence and travels of Indians and Indian culture is also shown in the West.

Rushdie's collection of short stories East, West is loaded with references to Bollywood, beginning by the tragic character Ramani in "The Free Radio." He is compared to great Bollywood actors because he has a beautiful face, blessed with the good looks of none other than Krishna himself : "Such a handsome chap, you should go to Bombay and be put in the motion pictures" (p. 22). He does realise this ambition but only at the cost of being deprived of his virility by the cruel hand of the "Widow". At the end of the story the narrator informs us that "he spent his days at the Sun-n-Sand Hotel, Juhu in the company of top lady artistes.

Contents[edit]

East[edit]

  • Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies - Ms Rehana goes to the Consulate in order to take the test to get a permit to London. The reason why she goes there is, because she is fiancée of Mustafa Dar. Her parents arranged that long ago and Mustafa Dar went to England. Now he sent for her. In front of the Consulate Mustafa Ali offers her an easy way to get the permission for free because he is attracted by her. Normally he tricks the tuesday women that come in order to get that permit, but this time he really is serious. He warns her of the private questions that they would ask her at the Consulate. But she refuses his help and goes to take the test. At the end we learn that she answered all the questions wrong on purpose because she wanted to stay in Lahore.
  • The Free Radio- deals with the issue of government attempts to address family planning and high birth rates.
  • The Prophet's Hair - the story involves a relic that contains Muhammad's hair that was stolen out of the Hazratbal mosque in Kashmir. In reality this mosque claims to have this relic.

West[edit]

  • Yorick - a fictional account of the childhood life of Prince Hamlet and his father's court jester Yorick, of the Shakespeare play bearing his name.
  • At The Auction of the Ruby Slippers - the ruby slippers refer to the slippers of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. (Note that in the written story of the Wizard of Oz these slippers were silver. In the movie adaptation however these slippers were ruby).
  • Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship (Santa Fé, AD 1492)

East, West[edit]

  • The Harmony of the Spheres
  • Chekov and Zulu - the main characters are named after Pavel Chekov and Hikaru Sulu
  • The Courter A teenage boy retells the story of the Indian woman who raised him and his siblings and her relationship to the 'porter' of the building in London, whom she calls the 'courter' by mispronouncing his title.