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East, West by Salman Rushdie

East, West

by Salman Rushdie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
East, West is good book, appropriate if you’re looking to fill a hole in your love of Rushdie, but for me, it will depend on how much I want to reread any of these stories six months onwards. And without that perspective, I’m not sure I can unequivocally recommend all of it. Check the book out of the library, read the second story in each section, and see of how you feel.
It was good, but not as good as other Salman Rushdie. Ultimately, I think it was just a little too ordinary. All of Rushdie’s excellent books have this intrusion of religion, or otherworldliness, that manages to seep through the texts. Whether it’s Machiavelli’s memory palace, Shalimar’s ability to walk on air, or Gibreel’s angelic status. Or even Haroun’s ability to tell stories, from a literal place of tales. Those miracles don’t come in to East, West, simply because of the length of the stories. Sometimes, some of them come close, but there’s no sense that the magic is actually intrusive, unexpected.
Take “The Auction of the Ruby Slippers”, one of the West tales in the saga. In it, the world begins to collapse in on itself, around the Ruby Slippers. Some want to buy them to go back to another time and place, one lost. Some people want to use them to escape, because time machines are space machines, and the slippers might even offer release from life itself. But none of that is emergent. It’s just the way that the world of the auction happens to go.
The largest exception to this comes in “The Prophet’s Hair”, the last of the East stories in the volume, where the miraculous discovery of a hair from the prophet Muhammad causes a great deal of changes in a single family, a confession of all sorts of sins and a total upending of the household order, a move from the western to the most strictly religious household that Rushdie has ever written. And in doing so, Rushdie actually manages to instill this magic again, transforming the story from a tale of morality into a tale of tales, an appropriate homage to his own work and the giants on whose shoulders he stands.
Not that the volume doesn’t deserve praise. Three stories were written for this piece exclusively, and one of them, “Chekov and Zulu” might be one of the best things I have ever read about the relationship of western popular culture to Indian livelihood. Chekov, you see, is a character on Star Trek. As is Sulu. But Zulu, that’s just a mispronunciation, taken by a boy, and his friend, as they all took on the personas, real and imagined, of Star Trek characters. They didn’t have the episodes to watch, just the ephemera, and seeing the effect of that on their lives is a sight to behold. ( )
  Vermilious | Feb 15, 2015 |
Enjoyed the Indian "East" short stories tremendously. Somehow did not relate much (actually not at all) to the "West" stories - somehow in those, felt he was trying too hard to impress when simple is what he does best - although since I've not read Rushdie before have no clue what he does best but that was my impression - that he was trying to capture an audience not familiar with him... Maybe I failed to see the message of the collection?. "Yorrick" just didn't seem to fit in with the other themes but maybe I was expecting far too much East and disappointed there was less.. Of the "West" stories only the auction of the "Ruby Red Shoes" pulled any chords with me. This does not put me off Rushdie - am glad I got a taste of him, though I will be more selective in choosing the next one of his. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
A fascinating curate's egg of a collection.

The first three "East" stories are disarmingly charming. My favourite story in the book is the first story "Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies", which is brilliantly simple, beautiful, romantic and unsurprisingly surprising; the very image of the principal character, on whom I think I have a bit of a crush. The following two stories are distinctly, charmingly, but very differently eastern - first "The Free radio" a modern parable with the bones of the dark side of India poking through and then "The Prophet’s Hair" which has that whole One Thousand and One Nights thing going on.

The second three "West" stories are, in sharp contrast, everything I dislike about smart-arsed english story telling in the knowing post magic realism world. They read like bad pastiches of Julian Barnes meets Tom Stoppard, ie "Yorick"; or of David Mitchell, ie " At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers" or Julian Barnes dumoing Stoppard for my mum ", ie "Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship". All three were to me as bad as the first three were good. Did Rushdie write them partcularly badly to make some point about western literature?

But the last three "East meets West" are really the whole point of the book for me. All three explore the interaction of modern Western culture with ancient Eastern culture. All happen within the UK and within a very British society which is far more than just the backdrop - it is almost a character in the stories. I agree with the other reviewer that these three stories really do show Rushdie’s mastery of the language and are filled with wonderful prose. All that and a there is a sexy Mauritian in the book too.

If it hadn't been for the disappointing middle section I would be saying this is the best book of short stories I have read for some years. ( )
  anyotherbizniz | May 19, 2012 |
East, West is the first collection of short stories by Salman Rushdie. There are nine stories, six of which have been published previously in magazines. In the East section: Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies, where a woman seeking a permit to London gets some good advice from an advice wallah, but uses it is a way he doesn’t expect; The Free Radio, where a rickshaw driver maintains his faith in a government reward from the sterilisation clinic; and The Prophet’s Hair, where we learn that crime, especially in the form of theft of a holy relic, definitely does not pay. These have a decidedly eastern flavour. In the West section: Yorick, an interesting prologue to Hamlet that Shakespeare scholars might well enjoy; At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers, a speculation on what might be auctioned in an alternate world; Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship, a speculation of what Columbus endured at the Spanish court. Finally, in the East, West section: The Harmony of Spheres, which explores a friend with schizophrenia, and has quite a twist in the tail; Chekov and Zulu, which looks at Indian diplomats in Britain during the time of Indira Ghandi’s assassination and has very much the flavour of the Satanic Verses; and The Courter, a delightful tale of romance, cartoons and chess in the elderly, which has a slightly sinister edge to it. Rushdie’s mastery of the language means these are filled with wonderful prose. His mock-Shakespearean and mimic-Indian are particularly entertaining. If there was not an autobiographical touch in The Harmony of Spheres and especially in The Courter, then these are certainly written from close experience, and are definitely my favourites. ( )
  CloggieDownunder | Mar 16, 2012 |
A collection of 9 short stories by Rushdie. Organised in three sections - East which contains stories set in India; West which was a rather mixed bag and East, West which covers the interactions of Indians with Britain. The stories in the first two sections had been published elsewhere but the last three were new to the collection.

After a strong start with "Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies" I must say that I didn't get on with them all and was tempted to skip "Yorick" which I found irritating. Apart from that one I found something to enjoy in all the stories and must admire Rushdie's versatility as a story teller. ( )
1 vote calm | Oct 29, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This sometimes poignant and intimate, sometimes boisterously inventive, sometimes gently provocative collection of short stories, formally wide-ranging though it is, is structured as a tight little syllogism. There are exactly nine stories, three each in three sections, with thesis ("East"), antithesis ("West") and a final synthesis ("East, West") wherein the twain do meet.
Though these stories are recounted with verve and wit and make for entirely enjoyable reading, they evaporate from the reader's mind seconds after reading. Their "surprise" endings are completely predictable; their philosophical subtext, nil.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rushdie, Salmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dabekaussen, EugèneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maters, TillyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679757899, Paperback)

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Satanic Verses comes nine stories that reveal the oceanic distances and the unexpected intimacies between East and West. Daring, extravagant, comical and humane, this book renews Rushdie's stature as a storyteller who can enthrall and instruct us with the same sentence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:15 -0400)

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Nine short stories reveal the vast distance and intimacy that exist between East and West, as well as the complex misunderstandings that both bind and separate them.

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