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The Ground Beneath Her Feet [Paperback]

Salman Rushdie
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Feb 2000
Vina Apsara, a famous and much-loved singer, is caught up in a devastating earthquake and never seen again. This is her story, and that of Ormus Cama, the lover who finds, loses, seeks and again finds her, over and over, throughout his own extraordinary life in music. Set in the inspiring, vain, fabulous world of rock'n'roll, this is the story of a love that stretches across continents, across Vina and Ormus's whole lives, and even beyond death.

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The Ground Beneath Her Feet + The Moor's Last Sigh + Midnight's Children
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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099766019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099766018
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Starting with the now classic Midnight's Children, voted the Booker of Bookers, followed by Shame, The Satanic Verses and the triumphant The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie has established himself as one of the most compelling storytellers in contemporary fiction. Throughout Rushdie's writing runs the belief that without the democratic, irreverent, subversive playfulness of stories, we lose our sense of humanity and identity and sink into the nightmare of history which his novels so powerfully indict. The pursuit of such beliefs has of course left a lasting impact on Rushdie himself, from the violent response to his indictment of Pakistani politics in Shame to the response of Islamic fundamentalism to The Satanic Verses, to which Rushdie's ultimate response was the deeply moving study of religious and cultural tolerance in The Moor's Last Sigh. The Ground Beneath Her Feet sees Rushdie one again pillaging the founding myths and stories of East and West from which he creates an astonishing parable of the ways in which, as the title itself suggests, even the ground beneath our feet is not as stable as we might like to think.

Rushdie has always been fascinated by contemporary culture and in particular cinema, most brilliantly evoked in Shame and his non-fiction. The Ground Beneath Her Feet finds Rushdie immersed in the world of rock 'n' roll, so successfully that one of the novel's spinoffs has been the recording of Rushdie's lyrics by U2. Vina Apsara, Greek-American trash, and Ormus Cama, son of a disillusioned Bombay lawyer and Anglophile, meet in 1950s Bombay, creating one of the most tortuous but enduring rock partnerships which spans the next 40 years. With Rushdie's usual breathtaking panache, the story of their families and histories unfold as the narrative develops, recounted by Umeed Merchant, aka Rai, photographer and sometime lover of Vina. Rai recounts the on-off relationship between Vina and Ormus as he moves across the trouble-spots of the world, photographing upheavals and atrocities, before securing the ultimate final picture of Vina, swallowed by the earthquake which opens the book, and which recurs throughout the novel like the guitar riffs which the baby Ormus plays as he first emerges from the womb.

Cannibalising the stories of classical history, the novel offers an updating of the myth of Orpheus, the greatest of all musicians, and his doomed wife, Eurydice. Transmuted from Greece, via India, and thrown into the postmodern world of rock and roll, Rushdie weaves a magical narrative of the melding of East and West, in song and in story, as the novel careers across the globe. From a wonderfully comic portrayal of London in the swinging sixties, to the sex and drugs and rock n roll of New York in the seventies, Rushdie's canvas grows more ambitious than ever, held together by the love triangle of Vina, Ormus and Rai and its final tragic unravelling, as the ground moves beneath their feet in one final ironic twist.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet finds Rushdie at the height of his powers, exploring love, loss, migration, displacement and the seismic effects of cultural difference. As one of the many songs that Rushdie weaves into his story goes, "I know it's only rock n roll, but I like it." --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A ground-breaking work... Rushdie turns our century of celebrity and atrocity inside out. He makes you see the world in a new light" (Time Out)

"The first great rock 'n' roll novel in the English language" (The Times)

"Uniquely exhilarating...Salman Rushdie once more proves his mastery... His sheer linguistic energy is a delight" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A carnival of words...a triumphant hymn to the transforming power of love" (The Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock and Roll Rushdie 15 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Don't know really. I felt that 'Moor's Last Sigh' may have had a flash superficiality about it, for all its qualities, and this could be the case here too. The book is about Vina Apsara and Ormus Cama - lovers and mega rock stars coming out of India. The book is not always comfortable in dealing with them as global rock stars - I didn't believe all of that. It is much better on Rushdie's home turf - childhood and early years in Bombay. Characters from 'Midnight's Children' and, I think, 'Moor's Last Sigh' make bit part appearances, and passages are up there with the best of those books. And there are certainly really vivid passages later.
The book comes back to the ground beneath our feet all the time - characters have it removed from beneath them by natural forces, by the despair of unrequited love, by betrayal of trust, by a lack of god or gods or idols to believe in. This is a world of uncertainties and dislocations.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the third character, Rai, who watches and narrates this great mythic story. A childhood friend, successful photographer, and Vina's secret lover. In these roles and as narrator of this story he is an outsider - detached from the main picture; a watcher. Successful, well known himself, but also regretful of lost opportunities. He lives a good life, but not a mythically great one. It is easy to see elements of Rushdie in Rai, and in the artist rock star Ormus, who withdraws himself from the world.
I enjoyed this novel. It is very readable, often vivid and spectacular. It isn't a great novel, and I have this slight sense of Rushdie straining sometimes to find new things to say, and to engage fully with contemporary popular culture. Rushdie might just be developing a career path that shows a gentle decline from a glorious peak. But it is worthy and worth reading, and I could be wrong.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfectly stitched together, but pretty thread. 10 April 2003
I'm new to Great Modern Literature (the closest thing I've read is Kate Atkinson), but this served as a fine introduction, as the dominating subject matters are familiar enough for the reader to get to grips with the style. In agreement with other reviewers, it's not one to read in small sections - though it can be taken a chapter at a time, I got my greatest enjoyment when reading 150 pages in a single sitting.
It's a book with massive scope, providing us with a vivid sense of time and place as it stretches across more than fifty years and most of the globe. It's not only a love story and an exploration of mythology and the world of rock'n'roll, but an exciting and richly-woven tale of interlinked families, and along the way it deals with all sorts of unusual-but-interesting concepts, from the goat industry to pirate radio.
It's certainly not perfect. Though the three main characters are complex, it's overwhelming singular frustrating personality traits that are usually in evidence. We lose hope of seeing Vina as anything other than a diva, Ormus anywhere other than lost in his own world (literally!), Rai as anything but pathetic, though we sympathise with all of them. Further, all of them possess talents too extreme to make them believable: perhaps they're meant to be seen as the heroes of myths but this is hard to keep in mind, considering the book's mostly-realistic setting.
Their tale rambles and repeats, the pace flags and passages reek of "See how intelligent I, Salman Rushdie, am! I am mighty, and therefore I shalt get away with discussing pretentious notions that you ordinary mortals would never dare voice to your mates down the pub!" However, spookily, whenever I was thinking "Whatever happened to name_of_secondary_character?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He ain't heavy, he's Salman Rushdie! 14 July 1999
By A Customer
Highly entertaining and thought provoking. In the Ground Beneath her Feet, Rushdie brilliantly examines the distinction between reality and our socially-skewed perception of it. By using the most artificial modern-day construct, Rock 'n'Roll, as a metaphor for society, Rushdie underlines the fragility of cultural existence.
But if you can't be doing with semiology, The Ground Beneath Her Feet also provides a rollicking tour through popular culture. With witty associations and an abundant imagination, Rushdie comes up with a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
Gavin Jackson
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An epic love story. 27 Aug 2013
By Lola
Format:Kindle Edition
I love epic love stories, and this is definitely one of them, a story about dynasties, consuming passion (of love and music) and a tragic love triangle. No doubt Salman Rushdie is a great storyteller, but more than a few times while reading the novel I felt that he was straining occasionally to find new things to say, repeating over and over again things that were already said. And the whole novel felt a bit superficial, unreal (and I do not refer to the "other" universe the heroes seem to find themselves in, where Watergate is just a book about Nixon and John Lennon sings "Satisfaction"). This epic love story is about Vina Apsara and Ormus Cama - soul-mates and global rock'n'roll phenomena from India (a bit shallow if not completely unbelievable). Whilst their childhood and youth in India is colourful, vibrant and "alive", Rushdie, it felt to me, was not really at ease in describing their lives as mega rock stars, not only I found it hard to believe, I found the whole passages about their fame in the Western world (and the base of this fame) a bit patchy. The early Indian years were much better described and thought through than the rest of the lives of the characters.

The ground beneath our feet is a constant allegory, another character of the book, often mad and unreasonable, uncertain and shaky and hard to deal with and count on (from real earthquakes to the loss of your balance when you are betrayed). Rushdie comes back to the ground, this unstable layer beneath of our feet, over and over again. "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" is not just a love story, it is also a story of loss. Loss of balance, home, country, identity, friendship, trust, love and, ultimately, life.

I somewhat enjoyed this novel. It is interesting, ambitious and impressive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Part of my reading improvement scheme ...
Cover 3.0 Not the one in the photo on Amazon. Found this hard copy book at a NT bookshop for 2 and it was reduced to 1 in a sale. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alexander Kreator
5.0 out of 5 stars He ain't heavy, he's Salman Rushdie!
Highly entertaining and thought provoking. In the Ground Beneath her Feet, Rushdie brilliantly examines the distinction between reality and our socially-skewed perception of it. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2007 by Gavin Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book
This is the first Salman Rushdie book I've read. It's quite amazing. His style of writing is very different from anything I've read so far. Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2002 by D. Holden
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but enthralling
This is a novel of great scope which is a strength but ultimately its failing. This isn't just the story of Ormus and Vina and their love told through the eyes of thier friend Rai. Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing book from possibly the best author alive
I love Rushdie's books, but this is massively disappointing. Normally, his clever use of language, metaphor, classics and history all combine to leave you feeling enriched for... Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Madonna meets Maharaja?
The world of pop music isn't quite the scene I'd imagined Rushdie would portray after his literary semi-exile. It sounded almost flippant. Read more
Published on 15 May 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars chained by his own irony
Contrary to earlier reviews, this book is actually very readable: when the plot drags, there are still the glorious puns and devious allusions to keep us going. Read more
Published on 6 April 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Very ambitious but falls short of its targets.
This is the second Rushdie novel I have read. The first, Midnight's Children was a revelation and highly readable. This is no less readable and starts quite well. Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2001 by Shane F
2.0 out of 5 stars This is the epitome of a 'heavy read'...
I've been reading this on my 15 minute tube journey to work for the past 3-4 months and am now mercifully near the end. It really is excessively long and OTT. Read more
Published on 16 Feb 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars What a long, tedious read. A narcissistic novel.
Just a few words. I 'm not a fan of the writer and this is the first novel of his that I 've read, well almost. Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2000
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