Salman Rushdie’s Fathers

  • Hermione Lee


So speaks the narrator of The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995) in the process of discovering that the businessman father Abraham Zogoiby, whom he has sidelined during his childhood under the dominance of a powerful mother, is the embodiment of evil and of corrupt power. Many of Rushdie’s characters discover who their real fathers are in the course of their fictional lives, or come to terms with ‘the reality of a father’. That is often what makes the ‘weight’ of their stories, in both personal and political terms. If you were to argue (as the novelist Elizabeth Bowen does)2 that there is something childish in all writers, especially in a writer as fascinated by childhood as Rushdie, in love with stories and folktales and movies for children, then you could say that the adult Rushdie continues to ‘make fictions’ of his father. Fathers in Rushdie are unreliable, demanding and frequently metaphorical. They threaten or fail their sons; they battle with the rival power of the mothers; they need to be loved, but may not be loveable.


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For Further Reading

  1. For a hard copy list of Salman Rushdie’s work up to 2001, see Contemporary Novelists, ed. David Madden et al., 7th edn (New York: St James Press, 2001). For a more up-to-date list on the internet, see the British Council website: <>.Google Scholar
  2. Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, eds, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (London: Routledge, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. Boehmer, Elleke, Colonial & Postcolonial Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  4. Hodge, Bob and Vijay Mishra, ‘What is Post(-)colonialism?’, in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: a Reader, ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Brighton: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993), pp. 276–90.Google Scholar
  5. Nasta, Susheila, ‘Introduction’, Reading the ‘New’ Literatures in a Postcolonial Era (London: The English Association, 2000), pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  6. Rutherford, Anna, From Commonwealth to Post-Colonial (Coventry: Dangaroo Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  7. Said, Edward, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1993).Google Scholar
  8. Slemon, Stephen and Helen Tiffin, eds, After Europe: Critical Theory and Post-Colonial Writing (Coventry: Dangaroo Press, 1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hermione Lee 2005

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  • Hermione Lee

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