Posted in Short Stories

Salman Rushdie: Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship (Santa Fe, AD 1492)

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For Week 42 of my Deal Me In 2014 project, I drew my third wild card, the Two of Hearts.  I chose a short story from Salman Rushdie’s collection East, West: Stories.  The collection contains nine stories: three relating to the Eastern world, three the Western world and three that are a combination of the two.  The story I selected is from the West section: “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship (Sante Fe, AD 1492).”  My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


I am amazed at how well Rushdie develops his fictional characters of Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain in so few pages.  I think the title is longer than the actual story.

He portrays Queen Isabella with all of the emotional complexities that come with being an absolute monarch set on taking over the world – known or unknown.  Christopher Columbus is suave and sophisticated on the outside.  Inside, he is the crazy person wandering in the wilderness wanting to sail off the edge of the world.

What does Columbus request of Queen Isabella?  Consummation.  Is it consummation of a business deal that will give him the means to accomplish his mission to the world’s edge?  Is it the more traditional, well-known meaning of consummation?  That’s the question and there is no exact answer.  Does it matter?

History has given us the answer to the business deal question.  Read the story (it’ll take twenty minutes) to see about the answer to the other one.

In spite of the subject matter, Rushdie handles the story very delicately and perhaps even modestly.  A sweetness exists to the relationship between the two historical figures – a sweetness in a world-domination sort of way.

8 thoughts on “Salman Rushdie: Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship (Santa Fe, AD 1492)

  1. Hi Dale,
    In a shocking coincidence, I just read this story this morning for week 43 (Im on vacation and trying to work ahead and schedule a few posts in advance). When I mentioned in my draft of my future post that you recommended it, I popped over to grab your URL for a link and saw that you had just read the story too! Your pick of this as a wild card is topical too since it’s Columbus Day week here in the U.S. (I assume that was intentional, but DMI’s hand of fate did have to serve up your wild card to allow it at least). My draw was technically a week late to be a “hit” for Columbus Day but was still eerily close!

    I liked the story a was my first-ever reading of Rushdie. His collection you own sounds like a good source for future reading.

    1. Amazing coincidence, Jay! I admit that I did not think of the Columbus Day connection. Since I’m no longer in banking, I forget about it. I did want to read this story, though, since I had recommended it to you. And it’s the first fiction of Rushdie’s that I’ve read. I’m excited to read your post about the story!

  2. I have a good friend who adores Rushdie — says “Midnight’s Children” is one of the best books ever written and can’t say enough good things about him. That, plus your experience (along with Jay’s) makes me think I need to get some Rushdie on my TBR list.

    1. Ah, Midnight’s Children has been on my TBR list for a while. I really enjoyed this story and I think a full length novel of Rushdie’s would be great, especially one with as interesting a premise as Midnight’s Children.

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