Salman Rushdie Short Fiction Analysis
Because of their shared love of puns and allusions, Salman Rushdie often compares himself to James Joyce, a predecessor Rushdie also resembles in the fate of his reputation. Their humorous, vertiginous, multicultural mixture of erudition and popular culture might never have reached large audiences if they had not had works condemned for blasphemy and pornography, respectively. Rushdie’s texts are more erotic than Joyce’s and Joyce’s more blasphemous than Rushdie’s, so their public images are largely a misunderstanding. Both are best seen as postcolonial authors, Joyce condemning the web of British oppression that stagnated Ireland while Rushdie has satirized vestiges of it in India, Pakistan, and émigré communities.
A significant difference, however, divides the importance short stories have played in the careers of each. Joyce learned his craft through writing his collection of stories, Dubliners (1914), which marked a major advance for the genre; the interconnecting stories focus on a single locale. Rushdie’s works of short fiction (the casual fruits of the middle period of his career), although skillful in their dazzling ironic twists and word play, signal only a refinement, not a major change in the genre. Instead, each functions largely within some past tradition (such as those of Tom Stoppard or Donald Barthelme). With the exception of “Vina Divina” (an extension of one of his novels), they do not have an original voice that...
(The entire section is 1367 words.)
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