All the beastliness of shame

Comedic and macabre, Salman Rushdie’s Shame lays bare the mouldering shreds of human pride.

20170126_153350Shame · Salman Rushdie · 1983
Random House, 2008 · 307 pages, paperback

Dizzy, peripheral, inverted, infatuated, insomniac, stargazing, fat: what manner of hero is this?

The result of an orgy, Omar Khayyam is the illegitimate son to the three sisters Shakil who obscure his birth, profanely, under rumors of a divine conception. Leaving for school at age 12, Omar Khayyam receives his one constraint: never to allow his origins to be held against him – that is, never to lower his pride, never to feel shame.

But what of that “wrong miracle,” that strange, pitiful girl, Sufiya Zinobia? Opposites attract, a marriage is made: Sufiya Zinobia and Omar Shakil. Shame and Shamelessness.

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