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South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century BritainCulture in Translation$
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Ruvani Ranasinha

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207770

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.001.0001

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Staging Cultural Difference: Cultural Translation and the Politics of Representation: Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syal

Staging Cultural Difference: Cultural Translation and the Politics of Representation: Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syal

Chapter:
(p.221) 5 Staging Cultural Difference: Cultural Translation and the Politics of Representation: Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syal
Source:
South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain
Author(s):

Situating Hanif Kureishi

Meera Syal

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.003.0006

This chapter examines the emergence of British-born Asian writers in the 1980s and 1990s, focusing on the work of Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syal. Rather than offering forms of cultural assimilation, the work of Kureishi and Syal can be seen to engage in a redefining of ‘British-ness’. Locating their polemical and creative responses in the context of contemporary debates on the politics of representation, the chapter considers the different ways in which these writers contest ‘the burden of representation’ with portrayals that break decisively from ‘the stifling aesthetic of the positive image’. Kureishi's and Syal's works destabilise dominant constructions of ‘black’ or Asian identity. They disrupt notions of a monolithic, static Asian ‘community’ by dramatising how constructs of generation, class, sexuality, and gender impinge on the contested issue of what it means to be of Asian origin in Britain. Kureishi's subsequent move away from overtly politicised issues of race in his later novels can be read as contesting in turn the expectation that Asian writers should always address questions of race and identity in their work.

Keywords:   Asian writers, Britain, Hanif Kureishi, Meera Syal, politics of representation, burden of representation, identity, sexuality, gender, race

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