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At a time when monolingualist claims for the importance of ‘speaking English’ to the national order continue louder than ever, even as language diversity is increasingly part of contemporary British life, literature becomes a space to consider the terms of linguistic belonging. Bad English examines writers including Tom Leonard, James Kelman, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall, who engage multilingually, experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English’s power. Considering their invented vernaculars and mixed idioms, their dramatised scenes of languaging – languages learned or lost, acts of translation, scenes of speaking, the exposure and racialised visibility of accent – it argues for a growing field of contemporary literature in Britain pre-eminently concerned with language’s power dynamics, its aesthetic potentialities, and its prosthetic strangeness. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, Bad English explores contemporary arguments about language in Britain – in debates about citizenship or education, in the media or on Twitter, in Home Office policy and asylum legislation – as well as the ways they are taken up in literature. It uncovers both an antagonistic and a productive interplay between language politics and literary form, tracing writers’ articulation of linguistic alienation and ambivalence, as well as the productivity and making-new of radical language practices. Doing so, it refutes the view that language difference and language politics are somehow irrelevant to contemporary Britain and instead argues for their constitutive centrality to the work of novelists and poets whose inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms is the generative force of their writing.

Rachael Gilmour

6 ‘The language is the border’ The BBC World Service … advises that a genuine Rwandan national from any of the ethnic groups will normally be able to speak Kinyarwanda and/or French. … Reasons to doubt your nationality can be drawn from the fact that you are unable to speak Kinyarwanda and/or French. As already stated … you were screened for the main part in the Ugandan dialect [sic] and then were substantively interviewed in English. It is noted that you were able to answer a few questions asked in Kinyarwanda at the start of your screening interview. However

in Bad English
The poetry of Sinéad Morrissey, Leontia Flynn, Mary O’Malley, and Michael Hayes
Katarzyna Poloczek

never permanently fixed and constantly alternate. That is why, writing about the first Hakizimana-Hayes co-authored project, Postcolonial Identities: Constructing the ‘New Irish’ (2006), Helen Phelan argues: ‘The collaborative voices of Jean and Michael weave in and out of a creative dialogue, surrounding Jean’s paintings with history, story, and shaman-like journeying. … [T]his many-voiced story offers Irish, Burundian/ Rwandan reflections, with shared threads of history and a shared human story in Jean’s journey’ (2008: xv–xvi). Furthermore, Phelan elaborates that

in Literary visions of multicultural Ireland
The role of theatre practitioners in exploring the past
Yvette Hutchison

as a chorus commenting on the TRC. The project was conceptualised as multifaceted, with the South African narratives in dialogue with back-projections in spaces of memorial significance within the context in which the play was being performed. It premiered at the Amahoro Stadium in Rwanda (5/08/06), where some 12,000 people took refuge during the 1994 genocide, and the Bosnian performance took place at the Mostar Bridge (20/09/08). These interactions between performers, memories and spaces are important: Schramm argues that ‘the memory of violence is not only

in South African performance and archives of memory
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Appropriating identity?
Brenda Cooper

occur in other times and places, Sulter explains: ‘In the light of the current and increasing racial attacks and the horror of “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia and Rwanda, I felt compelled to look back to Germany’s hidden history – the “ethnic cleansing” of the Holocaust.’33 Sulter refers to ‘Blood Money’ as a poem; but it is really a poetic micro-fiction, a narrative, which she cannot make rhyme, as if the genre falters when humanity ceases to be humane.34 August Sander’s pre-war German circus of mixed performers becomes Sulter’s focus, where the ‘clown’ is the tragic

in Writing otherwise
Queering the queer Gothic in Will Self ’s Dorian
Andrew Smith

politics into an orgy. He becomes ‘a sort of god’ because his dreams ‘incorporated world events that were likely to occur as well as those that already had’, meaning that ‘he would become aware of things currently occurring – massacres in Rwanda, coup in Moscow, earthquake in Los Angeles – that he had already foreseen (albeit incorporating a cast of multicoloured centaurs and singing seahorses) in his

in Queering the Gothic
Dinaw Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (2007) and Teju Cole’s Open City (2011)

Brussels ‘with the idea that all the Africans in the city were from the Congo. I knew the colonial relationship, I had a basic understanding of the history of the slave state there, and that had dislodged any other idea from my head’ (138). He is therefore surprised to enter a club, the dance floor full with people he assumes are Congolese, and be told that ‘everyone was Rwandan’, contemplating that most of those dancing ‘would have been teenagers during the genocide’ (139). Julius soon begins to understand that the ‘European reality’ of ‘flexible borders’ means that

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
Nineteenth–century fiction and the cinema
Richard J. Hand

in a wealth of other contexts including journalism, not least in covering the 1994 genocide in Rwanda to the twenty-first-century crises in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Conrad’s exploration of the unjust barbarity of colonial exploitation has become a powerful metaphor for modern war: Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) effectively uses the novella as the source for an exploration of the Vietnam War (although, notoriously, Conrad is not cited anywhere in the credits). The ‘Conradian journey’ also

in Interventions
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Plain tales and hill stations
Margaret Rachel Beetham

. She had read somewhere that there was more than one mobile per adult in sub-Saharan Africa. It was a statistic she doubted, even though she knew that her friend Adela, who had fled to Britain from Rwanda after the genocide and spent long years trying to avoid being sent back, had two mobiles with which she kept in touch with survivors back home. The personal 143 Displacements letter, like so many of Adela’s family and friends, was dead. All Rachel’s dead had been letter-writers, and she herself had written hundreds – no! thousands – of them over the years. She

in Writing otherwise
Open Access (free)
Beowulf translations by Seamus Heaney and Thomas Meyer
David Hadbawnik

nightmare and lament: her nation invaded’. Of the passage Heaney remarks in his introduction, The Geat woman who cries out in dread as the flames consume the body of her dead lord could come straight from a late-twentieth-century news report, from Rwanda or Kosovo; her keen is a nightmare glimpse into the minds of people who have survived traumatic, monstrous events and who are now being exposed to a comfortless future. 74

in Dating Beowulf