The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives


Continuing with our look at writing concerned with expat experiences, when I first moved to the US, spending my time in New York and Philadelphia, I found myself often thinking about the following extract from Salman Rushdie‘s novel, Fury.

There’s just something about this piece that sits absolutely right with me. It conveys so well the Gulliver-esque excitement and fear that I felt when first having to navigate New York; and how, when listening to the locals talking, their inflections and pronunciations sounded to my ears so utterly confusing, and thrilling, and also…oddly bovine.

When he left the apartment nowadays he felt like an ancient sleeper, rising. Outside, in America, everything was too bright, too loud, too strange. The city had come out in a rash of painfully punning cows. At Lincoln Center Solanka ran into Moozart and Moodama Butterfly. Outside the Beacon Theatre a trio of horned and uddered divas had taken up residence: Whitney Mooston, Mooriah Carey and Bette Midler (the Bovine Miss M). Bewildered by this infestation of paronomasticating livestock, Professor Solanka suddenly felt like a visitor from Lilliput-Blefuscu or the moon, or to be straightforward, London. He was alienated, too, by the postage stamps, by the monthly, rather than quarterly, payment of gas, electricity and telephone bills, by the unknown brands of candy in the stores (Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ring Pops), by the words “candy” and “stores”, by the armed policemen on the streets, by the anonymous faces in magazines, faces that all Americans somehow recognized at once, by the indecipherable words of popular songs which American ears could make out without strain, by the end-loaded pronunciation of names like Farrar, Harrell, Candell, by the broadly spoken e’s that turned expression into axpression, I’ll get to the check into I’ll gat that chack; by, in short, the sheer immensity of his ignorance of the engulfing melee of ordinary American life….

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