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Furyby Salman Rushdie
Reading Group Guide
"Life is fury. Fury-sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal- drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. This is what we are, what we civilize ourselves to disguise-the terrifying human animal in us, the exalted, transcendent, self-destructive, untrammeled lord of creation. We raise each other to the heights of joy. We tear each other limb from bloody limb."
Malik Solanka, historian of ideas and dollmaker extraordinaire, steps out of his life one day, abandons his family without a word of explanation, and flees London for New York. There's a fury within him, and he fears he has become dangerous to those he loves. He arrives in New York at a time of unprecedented plenty, in the highest hour of America's wealth and power, seeking to "erase" himself. Eat me, America, he prays, and give me peace.
But fury is all around him. Cabdrivers spout invective. A serial killer is murdering women with a lump of concrete. The petty spats and bone-deep resentments of the metropolis engulf him. His own thoughts, emotions, and desires, meanwhile, are also running wild. A tall, green-eyed young blonde in a D'Angelo Voodoo baseball cap is in store for him. As is another woman, with whom he will fall in love and be drawn toward a different fury, whose roots lie on the far side of the world.
Fury is a work of explosive energy, at once a pitiless and pitch-black comedy, a profoundly disturbing inquiry into the darkest side of human nature, and a love story of mesmerizing force. It is also an astonishing portrait of New York. Not since the Bombay of Midnight's Children have a time and place been so intensely and accurately captured in a novel.
In his eighth novel, Salman Rushdie brilliantly entwines moments of anger and frenzy with those of humor, honesty, and intimacy. Fury is, above all, a masterly chronicle of the human condition.
From the Hardcover edition.
1. Rushdie writes, “Life is fury. Fury–sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal–drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths.” Consider what he means by assigning all of these implications to the word. How does it play into the plot and characterizations of the novel? Why do you think he chose it as the title?
2. What do you think is the significance of the fact that Fury is set in a very specific place during a very specific, and recent, time? Consider the events Rushdie talks about, the major political and social players who surface throughout the novel, and the name brands, TV shows, and other cultural icons he mentions at regular intervals.
3. Describe Malik Solanka. How does his profession play into his personality? What is the nature of his relationships with others? How does his cultural background inform his character?
4. Discuss how humor functions in the book. Is this a satire? Does the humor render the novel more real or more surreal?
5. What sorts of religious, literary, philosophical, and/or mythical references appear throughout the book? What functions do they serve within their respective contexts?
6. What is the significance of Malik’s creation, Little Brain? He describes it as “first a doll, later a puppet, then an animated cartoon, and afterward an actress . . . a talk-show host, gymnast, ballerina, or supermodel. . . .” Is there something to be said for the process it underwent to become the final result?
7. There are many different subplots running through the novel. How do they relate to one another? How do they relate to Malik?
8. How do love and romance function in the novel? Malik encounters several women throughout the course of the book; what are their similarities? differences?
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