Summary and book reviews of The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

by Salman Rushdie

The Ground Beneath Her Feet
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  • First Published:
    Apr 1999, 575 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2000, 575 pages

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Book Summary

An account of the intimate, flawed encounter between the East and the West in a stunning "re-make" of the myth of Orpheus

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

If rock 'n' roll is America's gift to the whole world, then The Ground Beneath Her Feet is Salman Rushdie's gift to America in return, a great contemporary love story and a dazzling, dancing vision of the modern era, which pulsates with a half century of music. His first novel to be set largely in the United States, it's a celebration of Americana, a brilliant examination of what the world means to America, and what America means to the world.

At the beginning, 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: the story of a love that extends across their entire lives, and even beyond death.

Their epic romance stretches from the cosmopolitan Bombay of the 1950s, through the vibrant London scene of the '60s, to the last quarter-century--intense, frenzied, crucial--of New York life. It 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, humour 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. In the words of one of Ormus Cama's songs: It shouldn't be this way. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is Salman Rushdie's most gripping novel and his boldest imaginative act, a re-imagining of our shaken, mutating times, an account of the intimate, flawed encounter between the East and the West, a stunning "re-make" of the myth of Orpheus, a novel of high (and low) comedy, high (and low) passions, high (and low) culture. It is a classic tale of love, death and rock 'n' roll.

The Keeper of Bees

She had been perspiring heavily and the sodden bedsheets stank of the meaningless misery of the nocturnal encounter. Raúl Páramo was unconscious, white-lipped, and his body was galvanized, every few moments, by spasms which Vina recognized as being identical to her own dream writhings. After a few moments he began to make frightful noises deep in his windpipe, as if someone were slitting his throat, as if his blood were flowing out through the scarlet smile of an invisible wound into a phantom goblet.Vina, panicking, leapt from the bed, snatched up her clothes, the leather pants and gold-sequinned bustier in which she had made her final exit, the night before, from the stage of the city's convention centre. Contemptuously, despairingly, she had surrendered herself to this nobody, this boy less than half her age, she had selected him more or less at random from the backstage throng, the lounge lizards, the slick, flower-bearing suitors, the industrial ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani

...[A]ddresses the themes of exile, metamorphosis and flux, and...examines such issues through the prism of multiple dichotomies between home and rootlessness, love and death, East and West, reason and the irrational....[T]he opening portions of the novel are animated by scenes that conjure up the burbling, Dickensian life of Bombay with Mr. Rushdie's patented elan...[H]e has called [the book] 'an everything novel'...

The New York Times Book Review

...[E]xuberant and elegiac...his best since Midnight's Children....What Rushdie is doing goes well beyond joke and whimsy. The world of this novel...exists at a wide angle to reality but also makes us wonder what would happen if the angle closed....[I]n this book...he finds...a direct line to the world's ashamed unconfident heart, and makes us laugh with the sheer proliferating energy of his call.

The Times (UK)

Ultimately, The Ground Beneath Her Feet is a triumphant hymn to the transforming power of love, boldly asserting that fate is only a fiction and that you can sometimes strengthen history by speculating on its alternative outcome.

Reader Reviews

Ray Kania

It is essentially a book that marks the history of his coming from exile back into the world as a free man. The themes give us something to grasp on too, and carry us through this story that will try to shake us up and change our views.

Anonymous
Philth Nippert
I'm always impressed whenever a contemporary story blends with overtly mythical dimensions to come up with something new, and that's the kind of story The Ground Beneath Her Feet is. It has other facets too, of course: a love story, a ...   Read More

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