Sheila's Reviews > East, West

East, West by Salman Rushdie
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9 stories about what happens when East meets West. Divided into 3 sections - East, West and East,West the collection explores the tensions and confusions that muddy relations between the two. Rushdie is in many ways a product of both East and West and as such can be said to offer an authoritative perspective on the highs and lows of bridging these two cultures.

Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies - My Review

The Free Radio - I haven't been able to find this story online
Told from the perspective of the onloooking retired teacher sitting under the village banyan tree, this is a story about a young cycle rickshaw-walla Ramani who falls for a "thief's widow" who has 5 children. To the village she is making a fool of him, but undeterred he wants to marry her. She wants no more children so in order to marry her he attends the touring sterilisation unit when it comes to the village. He believes he will get a radio from the government as others had done in his youth, but does not realise that this programme is long gone. His enthusiasm turns him into something of a local character as he imitates the radio station, reciting weather forecasts and holding the hoped for radio against his ear. After his inevitable disappointment he and his family head of to Bombay where is says he will try to make it in Bollywood. "Ram always had the rare qualityog total belief in his dreams" and his letters back to the old man tell of his success. The old man finds these letters wonderful and reads them often but in his heart he suspects that they are once again the outcome of the "huge mad energy which he (Ramani) poured into the act of conjuring reality"
Well hidden in the story is the setting of it in the time of the State of Emergency ie 1975 to 1977 during which Ghandi ruled by decree, suspending elections, curbing civil liberties, censoring the press and imprisoning political opponents. It was during this time that the forced mass sterilisation campaigns were in effect - many performed forcibly, on the elderly, the vulnerable, and by unqualified practictioners. I suspect therefore that one has to read the old man as the opponent of this, of the guardian of democracy, the widow's hold of Ramani as personifying Indira Ghandi's (a widow herself) hold on India itself, on the aspirations of Indian youth at that time, and Ramani as their ultimately unsupressed hopes even although they take there toll on him and on the country. That's how I would read it as fable, highly politically charged. It fits with the pleasure the old man gets for receiving and re-reading Ramani's still opimitistic letters.

The Prophet's Hair - My Review

Yorick- My Review
At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers - My Review

Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate their Relationship

East, West
The Harmony of the Spheres
Chekov and Zulu - My Review

The Courter

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Reading Progress

October 26, 2009 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
December 6, 2017 – Started Reading
December 6, 2017 – Shelved
August 7, 2018 – Finished Reading

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