Bombay Talkies, the Word and the World: Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

Finally, Rushdie thematizes the media of communication, writing, movies, scripture. Grimus deals with myth, Midnight's Children with plebian forms written by a scribe in the fashion of the Ramayana, Shame with oral stories told by elite women, and Satanic Verses with movies and the Qur'anic and hadith literature as they reverberate through oral story telling (of Gibreel's mother) and dream. Satanic Verses takes the hadith literature of Islam seriously, and by exposing to the outside world what normally is communal discourse, challenges Muslims to develop a critical consciousness that can withstand scrutiny, or, better, that treats itself with good-humored humility. Ironically, compared to Shame, Satanic Verses is a much mellower book. It is a much richer, less parochial one as well. It does not parody the Qur'anic style, as Brennan, for one, thinks Shame does. But it, too, builds upon the repressed violence of guilt, shame, and humiliation-powerful emotions capable not merely of triggering riots in the East End, but also of death sentences against novelists.

The whole corpus of Rushdie's work gives rich food for thought for a large range of problems having to do with the process of immigration-its strains, its class differences-and the problems of cultural transformation in milieus where intellectuals and people are often at odds, not just in their discourses but in the very media they use to express themselves. (Fischer and Abedi, 153)

About the Author

Mehdi Abedi is now a CEO of Pride of Persia Rug Co. He completed his Ph.D at Rice University. His main interests in anthropology is the cultural scene.

Michael M.J. Fischer is a Professor of Anthropologt and Science and Technology Studies at MIT. Michael Fischer trained in geography and philosophy at Johns Hopkins, social anthropology and philosophy at the London School of Economics, anthropology at the University of Chicago. Before joining the MIT faculty, he served as Director of the Center for Cultural Studies at Rice. He conducts fieldwork in the Caribbean, Middle East, South and Southeast Asia on the anthropology of biosciences, media circuits, and emergent forms of life.

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