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Representations of slavery

Slavery is a recurring subject in works by the contemporary British writers Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar, yet their return to this past arises from an urgent need to understand the racial anxieties of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Britain. This book examines the ways in which their literary explorations of slavery may shed light on current issues in Britain today, or what might be thought of as the continuing legacies of the UK's largely forgotten slave past. It looks at a range of novels, poetry and non-fictional works by Phillips, Dabydeen and D'Aguiar in order to consider their creative responses to slavery. The study focuses exclusively on contemporary British literary representations of slavery, and thoughtfully engages with such notions as the history, memory and trauma of slavery and the ethics of writing about this past. It offers a guide to the ways in which the transatlantic slave trade is represented in recent postcolonial literature.

Open Access (free)

Rohinton Mistry is the only author whose every novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995) and Family Matters (2002) are all set in India's Parsee community. Recognised as one of the most important contemporary writers of postcolonial literature, Mistry's subtle yet powerful narratives engross general readers, excite critical acclaim and form staple elements of literature courses across the world. This study provides an insight into the key features of Mistry's work. It suggests how the author's writing can be read in terms of recent Indian political history, his native Zoroastrian culture and ethos, and the experience of migration, which now sees him living in Canada. The texts are viewed through the lens of diaspora and minority discourse theories to show how Mistry's writing is illustrative of marginal positions in relation to sanctioned national identities. In addition, Mistry utilises and blends the conventions of oral storytelling common to the Persian and South Asian traditions, with nods in the direction of the canonical figures of modern European literature, sometimes reworking and reinflecting their registers and preoccupations to create a distinctive voice redolent of the hybrid inheritance of Parsee culture and of the postcolonial predicament more generally.

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This is a comprehensive study of Michael Ondaatje's entire oeuvre. Starting from Ondaatje's beginnings as a poet, it offers an intensive account of each of his major publications, including The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming Through Slaughter, In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient, drawing attention to the various contexts and intertexts that have informed his work. The book contains a broad overview of Ondaatje's career for students and readers coming to his work for the first time. It also offers an original reading of his writing which significantly revises conventional accounts of Ondaatje as a postmodern or postcolonial writer. The book draws on a range of postcolonial theory, as well as contributing to debates about postcolonial literature and the poetics of postmodernism.

Twenty-first-century voices

This text focuses solely on the writing of British writers of South Asian descent born or raised in Britain. Exploring the unique contribution of these writers, it positions their work within debates surrounding black British, diasporic, migrant and postcolonial literature in order to foreground both the continuities and tensions embedded in their relationship to such terms, engaging in particular with the ways in which this ‘new’ generation has been denied the right to a distinctive theoretical framework through absorption into pre-existing frames of reference. Focusing on the diversity of contemporary British Asian experience, the book deals with themes including gender, national and religious identity, the reality of post-9/11 Britain, the post-ethnic self, urban belonging, generational difference and youth identities, as well as indicating how these writers manipulate genre and the novel form in support of their thematic concerns.

Writing the metropolis after 1948

To read South African writing about London is to study the development of South African literature and culture in relation to one of the most important geographical touchstones within the South African imaginary. The texts examined in South African London respond to the apartheid context, displaced to a non-South African location that is a significant site of South African exile and emigration. Travel to London afforded South African writers opportunities to rethink ideas about Englishness, and also forged illuminating engagements with South African subjectivities. South African London uncovers a range of diverse responses by South African writers that provide nuanced perspectives on exile, global racisms and modernity. This book presents unexpected angles on major South African writers, such as Peter Abrahams, Dan Jacobson, Noni Jabavu, Todd Matshikiza, Arthur Nortje, Lauretta Ngcobo, J.M.Coetzee, Justin Cartwright and Ishtiyaq Shukri, across genres from life writing and journalism to novels, short stories and poetry. Since South African London considers the dual locations of London and South Africa alongside each other, it offers a refracted history of postwar London, emphasising the city’s transnational networks and the worldliness of South African letters.


Resistance and its Discontents in South Asian Women’s Fiction challenges the prevailing misgivings about the relevance of resistance as a concept in postcolonial literary studies and complicates existing debates in the field about the possible meanings and manifestations of ‘resistance’. While clearly situating dissent and subversion at the heart of questions of power and oppression, the book brings to the fore the ways in which the literary texts under discussion compel us to grapple with the emancipatory politics as well as the contradictions and slipperiness of the term ‘resistance’. More broadly, the monograph demonstrates the importance of the notion of resistance when coming to grips with the idea of ‘the political’ today.

John McLeod

Britain as a central point of reference for the new literatures in English, then postcolonialism does little to dislodge this privileging when critiquing the cultural endeavours of once-colonised countries. It continues the collecting and tethering of these literatures to the colonial centre via the use of the term ‘postcolonial literatures’ which, for some, performs essentially the same task as the study of Commonwealth literature. Furthermore, the scope of postcolonialism remains limited to a selective number of those countries with a history of colonialism

in Beginning postcolonialism (second edition)
New configurations of Frenchness in contemporary urban fiction
Steve Puig

of postcolonial studies in France and the emergence of urban literature, as both contribute to our understanding of “postcolonial France.” My aim is to show that urban literature can be seen as a kind of postcolonial literature as it contains references to, and a critique of, France’s colonial past that are informed by a new generation of historians. The 2005 riots were not exactly a new phenomenon. Since the 1980s, France has been beset by various forms of protest, mostly coming from the children of immigrants living on the outskirts of major cities and even

in Reimagining North African Immigration
Rachael Gilmour

relationship between his own language-world and that of the English novel.5 Encountering postcolonial literature offered him the means to interpret working-class Glasgow’s situation in relation to the operations of English as a globally dominant language, wielding power derived from histories of empire. It also, in the work of writers like Selvon or Tutuola, provided examples of localised, vernacularised, non-standard, new literary Englishes.6 Thus he presents an understanding of his own local contexts as stemming from an internationalist perspective, which provides, in turn

in Bad English
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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.