The Satanic Verses
Salman Rushdie, Author
I'll be really honest here. As much as I truly enjoyed every aspect of this novel, I am going to avoid over-analysis, and just keep it somewhat personal (you've been forewarned!). And I have to say, in this context, I could not have chosen a better time to read this work.
As much as people fuss and obsess over the controversy surrounding this novel, it is really (among a couple of other things) about immigration and alienation. I might not have caught this, if I myself hadn't recently immigrated. Well, recently is a loose term. It's been just over eight months, but I'm convinced that it takes at least seven months to complete an international move. That number is derived from the last move-related thing my husband and I did, which was to pick up our little dog from Heathrow. I couldn't officially call our house a home without the little guy running through it like something possessed.
Once the move is complete, how long does it take to conform? Do you ever feel like you fit in? I live in a small town; I certainly don't think the couple with American accents will ever truly blend or go unnoticed. Even though I have the advantage of speaking the same language, and looking like everyone else here, I can understand the feeling discussed by Saladin Chamcha and the manticore: "They describe us... That's all. They have the power of description, and we succumb to the pictures they construct." Sometimes I've wondered why I'm not a fat, loud, obnoxious, gun-toting alcoholic since that's how most of the world views all Americans (it's even worse when you're from Texas).
But like Saladin, I don't want to go back. At least not now. My overall quality of life here has improved. I never sit in traffic, traveling in general is much easier, and the temperature never really gets above eighty. Besides, a lot of the time, I feel like I can't go back, at least not to Texas. To quote how Saladin feels on the matter: "You're not my people. I've spent half my life trying to get away from you."
Now that I finally feel settled (how appropriate that a new year has just begun!), I will try to focus more on maintaining that delicate balance that many immigrants wrestle with: blending in without losing one's identity.
Happy New Year!