The Ground Beneath Her Feet

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Born in Bombay, India, in 1947, Salman Rushdie is the author of such noteworthy novels as MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (1981), SHAME (1983), THE SATANIC VERSES (1989), and THE MOOR’S LAST SIGH (1995). While clearly a contemporary retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET cannot be quite so neatly pigeonholed as being that alone. Rushdie has let out all of the stops in order to dissect popular culture and the almost deification of celebrities that seems to be at the center of it. Always daring, Rushdie can overreach and at times THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET becomes weighted down by the sheer volume of his manic imagination. The lovers of the novel are Ormus Cama, the founder of the most popular rock group around, and Vina Apsara, the sexually charged lead singer of the group. Narrated by a mutual friend and photographer Rai Merchant, the novel opens with Apsara’s disappearance during a terrifying earthquake in 1989.

After Apsara vanishes in the wake of the earthquake, Rushdie takes the reader back in time in order to chronicle the bizarre and twisted lives of Cama and Apsara and those who also inhabited their world. From India to New York and numerous places in between, the novel is a very bumpy roller-coaster ride. There is no shortage of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There is also no shortage of mythology, Americana, literary doodling, and religious fervor. As the ever-observant narrator, Merchant is the perfect stand-in for Rushdie. Merchant can seemingly bend with the wind and also stand outside of events to better understand what has transpired. Moving forward to 1995, Apsara somehow reappears and she and Cama are reunited. Ever the mischievous author, Rushdie reworks myths, muddies facts, and molds a world that is both recognizable and upside down.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist 95 (February 1, 1999): 941.

Boston Globe, April 18, 1999, p. E1.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 2, 1999, p. 2.

The Nation 268 (May 10, 1999): 25.

National Review 51 (May 17, 1999): 61.

The New York Review of Books 46 (May 6, 1999): 12.

The New York Times, April 13, 1999, p. B7.

The New York Times Book Review 104 (April 18, 1999): 7.

Newsweek 133 (April 19, 1999): 72.

Publishers Weekly 246 (February 15, 1999): 87.

Time 153 (April 26, 1999): 99.

The Times Literary Supplement, April 9, 1999, p. 25.

The Washington Post Book World 29 (April 25, 1999): 1.