East, West is a book that I have so many people speak about, yet have never actually had the opportunity to read myself, so when I saw it on the bookshelf, I was intrigued. I knew nothing about about the book before I picked it up, except that any one I had heard speak about it thoroughly recommended it, so it must be worth a read. Obviously, from the title, I gathered that the book would be about the coming together of, or perhaps transition between the East and the West, but I had no expectations other than that.
What first struck me was the ease with which I could read Rushie’s writing- especially in the first short story. His choice of vocabulary feels so natural, and his use of syntax so clear, that the reader is able to fully immerse themselves into the world of the narrative. Rushdie’s simple, yet far from simplistic, writing style made East, West the perfect bedtime read and, because this is when I do most of my reading, this suited me perfectly.
Similarly, the fact that the book is actually a composition of multiple short stories makes the book a perfect choice to read before bed, or for people that don’t have prolonged periods of time to dedicate to reading. However, what is great is that each of the stories are connected in some way, meaning that, even though the narratives are different, they share some similarities, which gives the book a real sense of continuity.
Each of the short stories is a great insight into contemporary life in each situation. And Rushdie’s expertly interwoven references to pop culture make each situation really come to life, and truly demonstrates the way in which eastern and western cultures influence one another. However, what I also liked about this collection of short stories, is that I was introduced to styles of writing, and types of fiction, that I would probably never have chosen myself (such as Yorick and Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship (Santa Fé, AD 1492) ) and whilst I wouldn’t necessarily choose such styles again, I am glad that I had the opportunity to sample it for myself, and to develop my own opinion of it.
To conclude, I would highly recommend Rushdie’s East, West, simply because it was completely different to anything I had read before, especially with regards to the cultural aspects. I think that, even if you don’t actually enjoy the narratives within each short story, it is definitely a good experience to have read this style of writing and to see, in a simple way, how cultures can affect one another. Now that I have read this book, I would definitely be interested in reading other texts that deal with a similar theme and I believe that is the most important thing about reading: that it can open your eyes to interests you didn’t know you had before!