Rushdie’s short stories in East, West are different than what we have read so far in class, which I enjoyed and found refreshing to read. There were parts that I found difficult to follow along at times, but I thought that Rushdie’s writing was well written overall. For my own reading pleasure, I do not typically choose short stories to read, but I did think that the first half of Rushdie’s novel was interesting because of its cleverness and in some places, mockery. I also enjoyed what I read so far because I like the connection to Rushdie’s piece “Imaginary Homelands”, and how it is possible to have a home in a place that may not be your original homeland, but that it is often times difficult to do so. I think Rushdie does an excellent job of explaining the displacement and confusion of identity that people sometimes experience when they move to a new country and come across a new culture.
The story that I found most interesting was “Good advice is rarer than rubies” because of the way he develops his characters to show the love for one’s home culture. This story shows the displacement between a familiar culture and one that is expected of them, and as I read the story, I felt bad for Rehana because of the decision that was made for her when she was young. Rushdie shows an Eastern tradition of arranged marriages, and how people are often unhappy with that predetermined choice, and the desire to make decisions for one ’s self. This story truly emphasizes the love for home and how sometimes people do not want to adapt to another situation because they prefer the life that they have. As I read, I placed myself in Rehana’s shoes and was sympathetic for her because if I were in her position, I would not want to move to another country where I did not feel comfortable.
One thing that attracted me to Rushdie’s book was the form. Rushdie does something very different by creating separate stories for readers to follow, but then organizes them into three separate parts. When I first picked up the book, I flipped through it and was struck by how Rushdie placed the stories into three sections, which is in a similar format to authors we have read already. The titles of the three sections are significant because they describe the different directions that one can take, yet as I thought about this deeper, I considered the fact that Rushdie may be commenting and saying that despite what direction you choose to take, you can make any place in the world your own home. Although some of his characters may not be enthusiastic about leaving their homes, I think that Rushdie is saying that it is possible to leave and adapt. I have not finished the entire book, but I found the three parts very telling because they show how Rushdie recognizes the different places and points in their lives that people may be in, and connects them all through one text. Although we know that Rushdie explains the difficulties of fitting into a culture as an outsider, I think that he is still encouraging his readers to try. This form also asks the reader to look closely at a connection between each of the stories to see how Rushdie pieces the entire work together.
The stories in Rushdie’s text truly show how important home is and how difficult it can be to live in a place that you are not used to and do not feel immediately content with. I think that Rushdie’s short stories are a unique way to relate to the reader and help them understand how his characters feel.