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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  11,571 ratings  ·  599 reviews
The novel that set the stage for his modern classic, The Satanic Verses, Shame is Salman Rushdie’s phantasmagoric epic of an unnamed country that is “not quite Pakistan.” In this dazzling tale of an ongoing duel between the families of two men–one a celebrated wager of war, the other a debauched lover of pleasure–Rushdie brilliantly portrays a world caught between honor an ...more
Paperback, 287 pages
Published May 18th 1995 by Vintage (first published September 8th 1983)
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 ·  11,571 ratings  ·  599 reviews

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Shame - a perfect tool of mass control for those who are shameless enough to use it!

Oh, for those of you who are not familiar with Salman Rushdie’s storytelling skills: even his characters suffer from confusion and dizziness while he is working on them. Somewhat nauseous after the ride, I try to put two sentences together that make sense of the extraordinary reading experience I just had. It is hard, though, for more happens in a subclause in Rushdie’s universe than other people manage to put
Kimber Silver
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him …" — Salman Rushdie

This was my first venture into the incredible mind of Salman Rushdie and I have to say he does not leave one wanting for lovely, metaphorical prose! He has an intense, edge-of-your-seat writing style that keeps the account moving along at a fast pace.

Set in an imaginary Islamic society, the book explores shame in all its variations. The characters are swimming in their indignity from the outset. Rushdi
Kevin Ansbro
"Shame is like everything else; live with it for long enough and it becomes part of the furniture."
—Salman Rushdie (excerpt from the book).

Oh, Salman, my beardy bunnykins … gah! You’ve only gone and let me down AGAIN! *sigh*

I revere Rushdie. I even proclaimed him to be one of my favourite authors, right here on my profile page, alongside Dickens, Márquez and dear old Dumas. But, alas, here’s another book of his that cannot hope to rival the magnificence of Midnight’s Children.

Set in a count
Brett C
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
I found this novel to be incredibly interesting and had me reflecting a lot while reading. Having studied extensively Arab/Middle Eastern/Islamic culture and being a former Arabic linguist, I enjoyed the author's story involving the characters, their cultural parameters, and their purpose. The central theme is shame: shame from within, seeing shame in the outside world, seeing shame in others, personal shame, living in shame, fear of shame, etc. The parallels of Pakistan's political climate in t ...more
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I reread SHAME this weekend and was once again reminded why Rushdie is one of the greatest authors of our time. In Shame he addresses may levels but this last reading I focused on how he has intertwined the relationship of Shame throughout the levels of our human experience. He draws his characters so that there many layered motivations and convoluted histories speak to more than simply internal shame but also how actions on level produce effects that reach as broad as national politics and hist ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
261. Shame, Salman Rushdie
Shame is Salman Rushdie's third novel, published in 1983. Like most of Rushdie's work, this book was written in the style of magic realism. It portrays the lives of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Iskander Harappa) and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (General Raza Hyder) and their relationship. The central theme of the novel is that violence is born out of shame. The concepts of 'shame' and 'shamelessness' are explored through all of the characters, with main focus on Sufiya Zinobia a
Greg Brozeit
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“Between shame and shamelessness lies the axis upon which we turn; meteorological conditions at both these poles are of the most extreme, ferocious type. Shamelessness, shame: the roots of violence.”
Brilliant. Just brilliant. In this surreal parable, Rushdie makes a compelling case that shame is the perhaps the most important—and overlooked—influence on public and private life. Shame is the “paltry” translation of the Arabic sharam, which protagonist Omar Khayyam Shakil’s three mothers “forb
MJ Nicholls
The overcaffeinated narrator of this exasperating novel brought me to the point where the obvious linguistic dexterity, the crazily exuberant frolic in words and wordplay taking place—normally characteristics that earn my instant devotion—made dragging myself through another page a masochistic exercise. Too entertaining and amusing to abandon for the most part, the novel teased me past the point of no escape (200pp or so), and with each manic, madcap précis of the thousand events taking place in ...more
Tahani Shihab
Mar 05, 2021 rated it liked it

3.5 stars
Ravi Gangwani
"It was once explained to me by one of the world's Greatest Living Poets we mere prose scribblers must turn to poets for wisdom, which is why this book is littered with them."

"The epicure against the puritan is, the book tells us, the true dialectic of history. Forget left-right,capitalism-socialism,black-white. Virtue versus vice, ascetic versus bawd, in the Fifteenth Century ?God against the Devil: that's the game."

I Loved Loved Loved it till infinity. Soon I'll give a re-reading to it again.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book! I can see why so many people like Salman Rushdie. (I can also see why religious types may become offended.)

Mr. Rushdie has a wonderful style. He really makes you feel like you are in Pakistan. That women and men there are really like this. His descriptions of the machinations of government and the women behind the men is absorbing.

In many ways, he reminds me of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Can't wait to read my next Rushdie novel!
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is like middle child in the family which has been underrated and overshadowed by the stardom of its most popular elder sibling Midnight's Children and most controversial younger sibling The Satanic Verses. However, kudos to Mr. Rushdie! As a parent, he did not force this poor soul to follow the footsteps of sure-success of his first famous child. Shame flourished following its own shameful/ shameless (?) destiny and stands out by its own merit!

Rushdie made a beautiful braid of modern f
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
Although I always list Rushdie as one of my favorite authors of all time, it had been almost ten years since I picked up one of his books. So when I came across Shame in 12th Street books, I decided to dive back in.

I loved the way that the story kept leaping ahead of itself, rushing ahead like an impatient child to tell you things that wouldn’t happen until much later, and when they did happen how different they were from the expectations that had been seeded. The narrator of Shame, like many of
Another great masterpiece by Salman Rushie, telling the story of the lives of Iskander Harappa (sometimes assumed to be Zulfikar Ali Bhutto), and General Raza Hyder (sometimes assumed to be General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq).

The concepts of 'shame' and 'shamelessness' are explored through all of the characters, with main focus on Sufiya Zinobia and Omar Khayyám.

4.5* Shame
5* Midnight's Children
2* The Enchantress of Florence
3* Joseph Anton: A Memoir
TR Shalimar the Clown
TR The Moor's Last Sigh
TR The
Michael Finocchiaro
This was Rushdie's third novel which was an interesting story about violence and shame that brought me in contact for the first time with concepts of Sufism and the poetry of Omar Khayyam. It was as always well-written and easy to read and shows Rushdie's powers of narration growing in power and confidence. ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rushdie has a very unique style to his storytelling; he narrates as a character outside of his tale, yet is wholly invested in it. His tone is casual, imitating the convolutions of an orally told story with not all the bits told in order. In this way, he plays with temporal and spatial linearity very freely, giving hints of the future in tantalising teasers- but still manages to surprise the reader. Shame is about politics, but it is also about families, and failures, and the fractures that can ...more
Paakhi Srivastava
Dear Sir Rushdie

Shame is an excellent satire written in your plainspoken magic realism prose, which has left me awestruck. It is astounding how perfectly you lamented the political state of affairs in Pakistan with that of unrest of hypothetical country Q. The chronicle of the shift in political powers and musings on deeper realms of human mind weaved together by an exotic language yet a quality prose is much appreciated.

Authors would like to write a gripping story for masses, you write for your
Shame - the masterpiece of a master storyteller. I have read some Rushdie in past and every book has been an eye opener. Though his form of writing is technically called - Magical Realism. For me it’s pure and simple magical mythical storytelling. The way he writes is how ancient history is called as mythology. He picks up historical situations whether India's partition in 'Midnight's children, Kashmir extremism in 'Shalimar - the Clown, or Pakistan's politics in 'Shame' and the characters turn ...more
Kiran Bhat
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
My favourite Rushdie book, and probably his most under-rated. In the pages of Shame, Rushdie invents a Pakistani town, and fills it with all of the reverence, mythos, and splendour of any of his other literary creations. A unique feature of the novel is the use of three interchangeable women as the mother of the main character. We follow their son Omar through his entire life, and the different ways that shame, and the various forms it can take, defines, expands, and corrupts his character. Sham ...more
David Haberlah
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-authors
I reread this book many years following my Pakistan encounters. It is one beautiful, philosophical, political, fantastical story in a land built on a myth. A great book to read for people from both sides of one subcontinent, and for those in love with it.
I have not read this for many years, but remember Rushdie's irreverent and fearless satire telling the history of Pakistan being a very entertaining read. ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am undecided as to award this book with fours stars or three.
It's a surreal story with some unforgettable characters.

It was surely worth the ride but I must confess that during the first hundred pages I was ready to shamelessly chuck it aside. I am glad I didn't. This is a story that'll stick with me for quite a while.

Ok...... 4 stars
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Probably one of the best things I've ever been lucky enough to stumble across. The country that's 'Pakistan but not Pakistan' is an amalgamation of countries throughout history, - and events in Pakistan are still clearly the focus. It's an imaginative reworking of history in the style of magic realism, a polemic against theocracy and tyranny, with his main characters based on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto & Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq; and my God, it's brilliant. I'd do it a serious injustice if I attempted to wr ...more
This was my first encounter with the obscure genre of magical realism and Rushdie himself. The book is set in a fictional town of Pakistan or ‘Peccavistan’, although Rushdie elucidates that it can be any country because no one is immune to shame, even the ‘shameless’. It is an uncomfortable part of human existence which insidiously haunts our lives.

The book’s central plot deals with the relationship between Iskander Harappa and Raza Hyder, which are allegorically based on two of most influentia
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
If I have one advice for those who plan on reading Shame it would be: take notes on who is who, write down names of characters and how they relate to each other, or you will be lost like I did! It reminded me a lot of A Hundred Years of Solitude, I had the Buendia's family tree with me all the time when I was reading it, so I could keep track of the characters relations. With Shame, there is the same confusion, the characters' stories are in a tangle, some are similar and the constant flashforwa ...more
Carl R.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shame is fantastic--not in the pop sense of high quality, but in the literal sense of worlds beyond reality. The book is filled with strange beasts and diseases. It travels through vast realms of soul, spirit, government, psychology, medicine, history, politics, religion, philosophy. It takes place in a country that is “not quite Pakistan,” and in a time that ranges from prehistory to the present. I am quite sure that those versed in Indian/Afghan/Iranian history find reams of allegory in the re ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shame is an undesired sperm that impregnates human psychic with acute guilt and discomfort to procreate a shameless fiend amid continual cerebral labor pains. Molded on a fictionalized caricature of Pakistan’s opinionated and influential communal strata it incubates the embryonic mesh of brutality resulting in social and personal turmoil.

Rushdie along with his emotive quandary constantly appears to be a lost child meandering on the South Asian political-cultural perimeter. With Satanic Verses an
Feb 01, 2011 added it
The controversy surrounding the reign and relationship of late Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Commander-In-Chief at the time, Zia-Ul Haq has captured the imagination of the world for a long long time. I had heard vague stories about this conflict as a boy but had never really understood what had ensued before and after the successful coup that Zia undertook, overthrowing Bhutto and becoming the President of Pakistan himself. This was one of the primary points of attractio ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
yuck. perhaps I'm just not as intelligent as I thought, but, I hated this book. There I said it. And, I'm just going to leave it at that.
I absolutely hated the first half of the novel. It seemed to drag on and on, introducing characters that I didn't find interesting in the slightest. However, it is interesting to note that as the book progresses, as the characters become more deranged (and consequently, more fascinating), I began to devour the book instead of checking how close I was to the end of a chapter every few pages.

Rushdie's style is sometimes a bit verbose, especially if you're not paying very close attention. However,
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Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, led to protests from Muslims in several coun

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