'There were collisions and explosions. The world was no longer calm.' Terror and precarious life in Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown
Textual Practice, 22, (2), . (doi:10.1080/09502360802045148).
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Rushdie’s recent call for the reformation of Islam may appear – however unwittingly – to correspond with contemporary discourses of counter-terrorism, which have clearly articulated the war against terrorism and the struggle for global security to the control of immigration, as well as the criminalisation of Islam. As A. Sivanandan has argued in ‘Race, terror and civil society’, ‘the war on asylum and the war on terror […] have converged to produce a racism which cannot tell a settler from an immigrant, an immigrant from an asylum speaker, an asylum speaker from a Muslim, a Muslim from a terrorist’. In the context of this conflation of counter-terrorism and the state regulation of migrant populations, what is at stake in Salman Rushdie’s call for a reformation of Islam in response to the July 7th bombings? As a middle-class migrant writer, who is often associated with a western liberal ideology, and a secular Muslim, who was also the victim of the death sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, Rushdie occupies an ambivalent position in relation to the convergence of the war on asylum and the war on terror described by Sivanandan. But how is this ambivalence registered in Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, a novel that was published at the same time as Rushdie’s call for a reformation of Islam? This article seeks to address this question by examining how Rushdie explodes the conventions of national allegory that he established in Midnight’s Children and Shame to represent the conflict in Kashmir, and its place in contemporary geopolitics.
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