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Shame: A Novel Paperback – March 11, 2008

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Editorial Reviews



“Rushdie’s novels pour by in a sparkling, voracious onrush...each paragraph luxurious and delicious.” The New Yorker

“There can seldom have been so robust and baroque an incarnation of the political novel as Shame. It can be read as a fable, polemic, or excoriation; as history or as fiction.... This is the novel as myth and as satire.” Sunday Telegraph

Shame is and is not about Pakistan, that invented, imaginary country, ‘a failure of the dreaming mind.’... Rushdie shows us with what fantasy our sort of history must now be written—if, that is, we are to penetrate it, and perhaps even save it.” The Guardian

“Swift in Gulliver’s Travels, Voltaire in Candide, Sterne in Tristram Shandy...Rushdie, it seems to me, is very much a latter-day member of their company.” The New York Times Book Review

“A pitch-black comedy of public life and historical imperatives.” The Times (UK)

From the Inside Flap

In this brilliant novel, Salman Rushdie masterfully combines history, art, language, politics, and religion. Set in a country "not quite Pakistan," the story centers around the families of two men -- one a celebrated warrior, the other, a debauched playboy engaged in a protracted duel that is played out in the political landscape of their country. Shame is a tour de force and a fitting predecessor to the author's legendary novel, The Satanic Verses. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812976703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812976700
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Salman Rushdie is the author of many novels including Grimus, Midnight's Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown and The Enchantress of Florence. He has also published works of non-fiction including, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, The Wizard of Oz and, as co-editor, The Vintage Book of Short Stories.

He has received many awards for his writing including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on January 29, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This, Rushdie's third novel, explores the universal theme of shame in the context of an - somewhat imaginary but simultaneously all too real - Islamic society. The characters swim up to their necks in the stuff. From the three sisters, Chhunni, Munnee, and Bunny (who remain locked up in "Nishapur" with their deadly dumbwaiter), who think more of their inheritance than their father's death to the immaculately conceived, fat, passive, and eternally inverted Omar Khayyam (but rumors fly that the sisters - who share in all the burdens of Omar's birth - scandously seduced Angrez men) to the self-proclaimed "simple soliders" who ultimately turn into brutal dictators (and some shamelessly use Islam to gain public support) to the public that grieves "Did we really do that? But we are ordinary people..." shame fills up and drowns every letter of this novel. And not just "shame", but the nearly untranslatable ultra-nuanced Urdu word "sharam". Even the "family tree" at the beginning of the book, with its numerous nicknames and references to "illegitimate children", seeps with shame. Most of all, the central character (according to the opening of part II), Sufiya Zinobia, physically and metaphorically embodies all of the horrors that shame can produce. The most violent and stomach-churning scenes in the book involve the manifestation of this "Beast" inside of the tiny, innocent girl. By the end of the novel she takes on the role of the classical Greek furies. She leaves a venegeful sopping bloodbath on her way to President Raza Hyder's compound. But, as always with Rushdie, the expected doesn't occur.

Much like Rushdie's second novel, "Midnight's Children", "Shame" contains an obstrusive narrator. This character (Rushdie himself?
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on March 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Shame" is an absolutely brilliant allegory about the political and social chaos that helped give birth to Pakistan and, later, to Bangladesh. If you're up on your modern history, some of the characters will be instantly recognizable. Benazir Bhutto is the Virgin Ironpants; and Zia ul-Haq, who wanted to throw Pakistan back into the middle ages, is General Raza Hyder, who ends up fleeing for his life, only to be destroyed, in an ending similar to a Greek tragedy, by the Three Furies, in the guise of the three "mothers" of the protagonist, Omar Khayyam, a lazy, indolent man without shame or much of a conscience either.

Neatly balancing Omar is the book's other protagonist, a little girl so engulfed in shame that her blushes burn everyone who touches her and almost set water to boil; when she grows up and loses her shame and thus her modesty, all hell breaks loose. Rushdie is also a terrific humorist, and some sections of the book will have you on the floor laughing. Above all,"Shame" is a tour-de force, a non-stop page-turner, a dizzying melange of allegory, parody, fantasy, mythology and modern history, told by a writer whose love/hate relationship with his country is reflected all over the book. It's Rushdie at his finest and helps to secure his place as one of the best writers of his generation.

Judy Lind
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
Shame is, in my opinion, the finest novel Rushdie has written yet. It's much darker thanany of his other work, disturbingly so, and the violence is of a kind not found in his other novels.The book traverses the sub-continent, moving through Bangladesh, India and Pakistan as effortlessly as the consciousness of most of the people who call themselves Bangladeshi, Indian or Pakistani. The emotion of Shame is a hook on which the novel is built. It isn't the center, though Rushdie often focuses on instances where his characters flush with redness. Rushdie spent part of his childhood in Pakistan (and has gone back since), the novel is pieced together, like most of Rushdie from a remembering that is incomplete and where the gaps are filled by fantasy. Shame attains a balance between the imaginatively outrageous and the real as it moves through time in the "other" country on the sub-continent. The story of a man/child who grows up in and, perhaps, out of a house with three aunts, each of whom is his mother, Shame stands for the people of the north-western sub-continent as only a work infused with divinely sharp humour can. Before the Satanic Verses, there was Shame, and Shame engaged in the same mode of literate heresy that Rushdie employed later in Satanic Verses. Only in Shame it was the root of all middle-eastern religions, Zoroastrianism that Rushdie focused on. And his repetition of a similar ancient heresy, like SV questioning the sharp distinction made between darkness and light (in God and creation), in the context of a faith that acknowledges, even births the Manacheean heresy. In a similar manner, Shame explores the realm between the human and barely human, and the madness that is in all of us. Shame isn't an easy read, it may even be so disturbing as to irritate you. But for me it is the supreme height of Rushdie's fiction to date, the strangest and most penetrating of all his work. -- Subir Grewal
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Everything's relative, but compared to _Midnight's Children_ and _Satanic Verses_ Rushdie's novel about Pakistan left me a bit dubious of my distinction of him as an unwavering literary superstar. I always enjoy his writing style, but I wonder if his strict political satire of the ruling classes in _Shame_ is as powerful as the epic parody in _MC_. This novel just appeared a bit more of a closed text with such seemingly visible agendas that I wondered to what extent crossing the fictional borders of countries could affect someone's writing.
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