Through travelled eyes : representations of subcontinental migration
This thesis uses the hostile reception of The Satanic Verses, the 'Rushdie Affair', as a paradigm for studying immigrant writing from the Indian Subcontinent today. Looking at a selection of authors who specifically write on topics of migration, travel and migrant communities in the West, it considers the political implications of texts that represent marginalised immigrant communities, and inevitably offer them to the gaze of a mainstream readership, thus entering a peculiar power relationship. The introduction looks at the position of Edward Said as exiled intellectual and cultural critic, and the location of travel and migrant identity within postcolonial criticism. Chapter I discusses the reception of The Satanic Verses, particularly by the Muslim Asian communities in the UK, and the conflicting definitions of Indian and Muslim 'authenticity,' as well as political loyalty and accountability at its basis. Chapter II discusses the definitions of expatriation and immigration that occur in Bharati Mukherjee' writing, placing her within a tradition of criticism that has made use of such categorisation. It also looks at the class basis of her own categorisation, and the way this translates to functions of voice, vision and definition in her writing. Chapter III examines Hanif Kureishi's textual strategies for engaging with issues of representation and reception, by looking at his early plays, and focusing particularly on My Beautiful Launderette and The Buddha of Suburbia. It also emphasis Kureishi's particular position as a second-generation immigrant, and makes references to a number of other writers with comparable voices. Chapter IV discusses the influence of Midnight's Children on Indian literature in English, and its redefinition of postcolonial Indian selfhood with reference to alienation and minority status, and metaphorical and actual migration.