Shame is Salman Rushdie's third novel, published in 1983. On the face of it, Shame is a novel about Pakistan and about the people who ruled Pakistan. One of the main aims of the novel is to portray the lives of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and their relationship. The more central theme is the violence that is born out of shame. There are characters that actually 'stand' for 'shame' and 'shamelessness' — Sufiya Zinobia and Omar Khayyám respectively.
When one reads the novel carefully, though, the city being portrayed is an imaginary one, the city of Q. The author-narrator makes it clear in the second chapter of the novel that the city of Q is an imaginary representation of any country: "My view is that I am not writing only about Pakistan" (Rushdie, 29). Shame discusses heritage, authenticity, truth, and, of course, shame and shamelessness, as well as the impact of all these themes on an individual, the protagonist Omar Khayyám.