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Shalimar the Clown
Salman Rushdie
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 2005

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Los Angeles, 1991. Maximilian Ophuls, one of the makers of the modern world, is knifed to death in broad daylight on the doorstep of his illegitimate daughter India, slaughtered by his Kashmiri driver, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the Clown. The dead man is a World War II Resistance hero, a man of formidable intellectual ability and much erotic appeal, a former United States ambassador to India, and subsequently America's counter-terrorism chief. The murder looks at first like a political assassination but turns out to be passionately personal. This is the story of Max, his killer, and his daughter - and of a fourth character, the woman who links them, whose story explains them all. The story of a deep love gone fatally wrong, destroyed by a shallow affair, it is an epic narrative that moves from California to France, England, and above all, Kashmir. At its heart is the tale of that earthly paradise of peach orchards and honey bees, of mountains and lakes, of green-eyed women and murderous men: a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed. Lives are uprooted, names keep changing - nothing is permanent, yet everything is connected.


Arabian Nights: Book of The Thousand Nights and One Night
Anonymous, 14e eeuw
Originating from India, Persia and Arabia, these tales represent the lively expression of a lay and secular imagination in revolt against religious austerity and zeal in Oriental literature. They depict a fabulous and fanciful world of jinns and sorcerers, but their bawdiness, realism and variety of subject matter also firmly anchor them to everyday life.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767
Part novel, part digression, this gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters.

James Joyce, 1922
Stylistically varied Homer-parody about the Dublin everyman Leopold Bloom, who emerges as surrogate father to Stephen Dedalus on the day his wife Molly sleeps with another man.

The Tin Drum
Günter Grass, 1959
"Danzig Trilogy": I
A scathing dissection of the years from 1925-1955 through the eyes of Oskar, the dwarf whose manic beating on the toy of his childhood fantastically counterpoints the horrors of Germany and Poland under the Nazis.

A House for Mr Biswas
V.S. Naipaul, 1961
Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.

The Guide
R.K. Narayan, 1958
Raju's first stop after his release from prison is the barber's shop. Then he decides to take refuge in an abandoned temple. Raju used to be India's most corrupt tourist guide - but now a peasant mistakes him for a holy man. Gradually, he begins to play the part.

The Vendor of Sweets
R.K. Narayan, 1967 (as The Sweet Vendor
While the colourful sweetmeats were frying in the kitchen, Jagun would immerse himself in his copy of the Bhagavad Gita. A widower, Jagan harbours an affection for his son Mali. But even Jagan's patience begins to fray when Mali descends on the sleepy city of Malgudi full of modern notions.

Ovid, AD 8
Ovid's deliciously witty and poignant Metamorphoses describes a magical world in which men and women are transformed - often by love - into flowers, trees, animals, stones and stars.


Midnight's Children
Born at the midnight of India's independence, Saleem is 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1001 children born that midnight, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent.

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
This magical realist novel tells the history of the Buendías family, the founders of Macondo, a remote South American settlement. In the world of the novel there is a Spanish galleon beached in the jungle, a flying carpet, and an iguana in a woman's womb.

A Son of the Circus
John Irving, 1994
Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr Farrokh Darwalla is a Canadian citizen living in Toronto. Twenty years ago he was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now 20 years later, the doctor becomes reacquainted with the murderer.

[De langverwachte]
Abdelkader Benali, 2002

Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe, 1958
Portrait of life in a Nigerian village before and after the coming of colonialism.

Double Play: The Story of an Amazing World Record
Frank Martinus Arion, 1973
A politically charged novel about a memorable game of dominoes on colonial Curaçao lays bare a mozaic of adultery and machination.

Windward Heights
Maryse Condé, 1995
A retelling of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, set in nineteenth-century Guadeloupe and Cuba.

The Bone People
Keri Hulme, 1984
The story of Kerewin, a despairing part-Maori artist who is convinced that her solitary life is the only way to face the world. Her cocoon is rudely blown away by the sudden arrival during a rainstorm of Simon, a mute six-year-old whose past seems to hold some terrible trauma.

The Buddha of Suburbia
Hanif Kureishi, 1990
Karim Amir, bored with his suburban lifestyle in England, is propelled into the fast lane and introduced to disparate cultures, classes and genders thanks to a disorienting chain of events sparked by his father, a self-proclaimed guru.

[Les honneurs perdus]
Calixthe Beyala, 1996

[Gewaagd leven/ Lijken op Liefde/ Was getekend]
Astrid Roemer, 1996-1998

A Suitable Boy
Vikram Seth, 1993
The tale of Lata's and her mother's attempts to find a suitable boy, through love or through maternal appraisal. Set in post-independence India and involving the lives of four families, it is also an explanation of a whole continent faced with its first great General Election.

A Fine Balance
Rohinton Mistry, 1995
A novel set in India during the Emergency: in the tiny flat of the widowed Dina Dalal, two tailors and a young student struggle to put together a new life of sorts amid the crisis, and in the course of doing so encounter a vivid cast of characters.

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy, 1997
Set against a background of political turbulence in Kerala, this novel tells the story of twins Esthappen and Rahel. Among the vats of banana jam and heaps of peppercorns in their grandmother's factory they try to craft a childhood for themselves amidst what constitutes their family.


Omar Khayyam Shakil had three mothers who shared the symptoms of pregnancy, as they did everything else, inseparably. At their six breasts, Omar was warned against all feelings and nuances of shame. It was training which would prove useful when he left his mothers' fortress (via the dumb-waiter) to face his shameless future...
The Satanic Verses

The Moor's Last Sigh

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Shalimar the Clown
Max Ophuls’ memorable life ends violently in Los Angeles in 1993 when he is murdered by his Muslim driver Noman Sher Noman, also known as Shalimar the Clown. At first the crime seems to be politically motivated – Ophuls was previously ambassador to India, and later US counterterrorism chief – but it is much more.
The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

In Good Faith

Imaginary Homelands: Essay and Criticism 1981-1991

The Wizard of Oz: an Appreciation
'When I first saw The Wizard of Oz it made a writer of me,' states Salman Rushdie in this nifty little book, an entry in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Rushdie weaves critical analysis, personal reminiscences, and behind-the-scenes information into an insightful essay about this well-loved film.
East, West

Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing: 1947-1997


Step Across This Line: collected non-fiction 1992-2002

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