The Ground Beneath Her Feet

 
9780788737473: The Ground Beneath Her Feet
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Salman Rushdie's most ambitious and accomplished novel, sure to be hailed as his masterpiece.

At the beginning of this stunning novel, Vina Apsara, a famous and much-loved singer, is caught up in a devastating earthquake and never seen again by human eyes. 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. Their epic romance is narrated by Ormus's childhood friend and Vina's sometime lover, her "back-door man," the photographer Rai, whose astonishing voice, filled with stories, images, myths, anger, wisdom, humor, and love, is perhaps the book's true hero. Telling the story of Ormus and Vina, he finds that he is also revealing his own truths: his human failings, his immortal longings. He is a man caught up in the loves and quarrels of the age's goddesses and gods, but dares to have ambitions of his own. And lives to tell the tale.

Around these three, the uncertain world itself is beginning to tremble and break. Cracks and tears have begun to appear in the fabric of the real. There are glimpses of abysses below the surfaces of things. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is Salman Rushdie's most gripping novel and his boldest imaginative act, a vision of our shaken, mutating times, an engagement with the whole of what is and what might be, an account of the intimate, flawed encounter between the East and the West, a brilliant remaking of the myth of Orpheus, a novel of high (and low) comedy, high (and low) passions, high (and low) culture. It is a tale of love, death, and rock 'n' roll.

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Review:

The ground shifts repeatedly beneath the reader's feet during the course of Salman Rushdie's sixth novel, a riff on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the high-octane world of rock & roll. Readers get their first clues early on that the universe Rushdie is creating here is not quite the one we know: Jesse Aron Parker, for example, wrote "Heartbreak Hotel"; Carly Simon and Guinevere Garfunkel sang "Bridge over Troubled Water"; and Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae starred in "South Pacific." And as the novel progresses, Rushdie adds unmistakable elements of science fiction to his already patented magical realism, with occasionally uneven results.

Rushdie's cunning musician is Ormus Cana, the Bombay-born founder of the most popular group in the world. Ormus's Eurydice (and lead singer) is Vina Apsara, the daughter of a Greek American woman and an Indian father who abandoned the family. What these two share, besides amazing musical talent, is a decidedly twisted family life: Ormus's twin brother died at birth and communicates to him from "the other side"; his older brothers, also twins, are, respectively, brain-damaged and a serial killer. Vina, on the other hand, grew up in rural West Virginia where she returned home one day to find her stepfather and sisters shot to death and her mother hanging from a rafter in the barn. No wonder these two believe they were made for each other.

Narrated by Rai Merchant, a childhood friend of both Vina and Ormus, The Ground Beneath Her Feet begins with a terrible earthquake in 1989 that swallows Vina whole, then moves back in time to chronicle the tangled histories of all the main characters and a host of minor ones as well. Rushdie's canvas is huge, stretching from India to London to New York and beyond--and there's plenty of room for him to punctuate this epic tale with pointed commentary on his own situation: Muslim-born Rai, for example, remarks that "my parents gave me the gift of irreligion, of growing up without bothering to ask people what gods they held dear.... You may argue that the gift was a poisoned chalice, but even if so, that's a cup from which I'd happily drink again." Despite earthquakes, heartbreaks, and a rip in the time-space continuum, The Ground Beneath Her Feet may be the most optimistic, accessible novel Rushdie has yet written. --Alix Wilber

From the Back Cover:

"Dazzling--a wonderfully imagined and abundant novel about love and rock 'n' roll, about India and the United States, about gods and mortals, and about this crazy world we live in.-- Sheer joy." -M.G. Vassanji, The Globe and Mail

"As absorbing as fiction can be -- and [from] one of our continent's best writers." -Kirkus Reviews

"This is Rushdie at his absolute, almost insolently global best -- his adroit mastery of language serves brilliantly imagined characters and a mesmerizing narrative. Completely seductive." -Toni Morrison

"[An] exuberant and elegiac new novel...his best since Midnight's Children." -The New York Times

"Brilliant...unabashedly ambitious, playful, arch." -The Toronto Star

"From start to finish, this massive novel is in every way major.--The writing is funny, silly, erudite, crude, precise, unbuttoned.--The fabulous and magical mix with the sordid and the profane; [the] plot is invariably advanced by catastrophe -- bizarre deaths and unexplained fires, multiple earthquakes.--Daring-- Extraordinary." -The Montreal Gazette

"Magnificent, monstrously inventive--The most playful of masterpieces." -Mirabella

"Salman Rushdie's new novel is a wonderful storytelling beast that feeds on pop culture, misfit history and the persistence of myth. Rushdie's epic range has never been more impressive. Here is a great novelist operating as a master of metamorphosis -- transforming life, art and language in the subterranean maze of his imagination." -Don DeLillo


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Salman Rushdie; Steven Crossley
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ISBN 10: 0788737473 ISBN 13: 9780788737473
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