The novel that set the stage for his modern classic, The Satanic Verses, Shame is Salman Rushdie’s phantasmagoric epic. Omar Khayyam Shakil had three mothers who shared everything. They shared the symptoms of pregnancy, they shared the son that they all claim to have borne on the same night. Raised at their six breasts, Omar’s mothers teach him to live a life without shame.
And it is training that proves very useful when he leaves his mothers’ fortress and makes the fateful mistake of falling in love. For he finds himself an unwitting player in an ongoing duel between the families of two men – one a celebrated wager of war, the other a debauched lover of pleasure – living in a world caught between honour and humiliation, where a moment of shame could prove fatal.
‘Shame is every bit as good as Midnight’s Children. It is a pitch-black comedy of public life and historical imperatives’ – The Times