The Ground Beneath Her Feet Paperback – 3 Feb 2000
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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 TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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?Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book but at times a struggle to get through as there is a lot of description.Published 18 months ago by Miss K. Macandrew
Enjoyable overall, but dwelled for too long in parts and strayed too much between a good story and pseudo-mysticism at times for my liking.Published 23 months ago by Mike Hammond
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 morePublished on 4 Dec. 2013 by Alexander Kreator
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 morePublished on 13 Feb. 2007 by Gavin Jackson
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 morePublished on 31 Dec. 2002 by D. Holden
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 morePublished on 14 Dec. 2001
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 morePublished on 13 Sept. 2001
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 morePublished on 15 May 2001