By Michael Perfect
Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism analyses novels of the overdue twentieth and early twenty first centuries that discover ethnic and cultural variety in London. It contributes to key, ongoing debates in literary and cultural stories and, specifically, to debates over the prestige and relevance of multiculturalism today.
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Extra info for Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism: Diversity and the Millennial London Novel
In the UK, it was burned in Bradford and in London thousands of Muslims took to the streets to march against it. Bombs were set off in bookshops. The novel’s Japanese translator was murdered, and its Italian translator was seriously injured. In his recent memoir Joseph Anton – which takes its title from the name which Rushdie chose for himself while in police protection (composed of the forenames of his two favourite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov) – Rushdie gives an exhaustive account of the events surrounding the fatwa.
Here, again, the ‘foreignness’ of Grandpa’s feeling more comfortable under a counter than in a bed is represented by the narrative’s translation of his Cantonese dialogue into broken English, with Lily, in contrast, translated into a faultless, almost exaggerated English. In the final stages of Sour Sweet, Mo translates Lily’s speech into an increasingly ‘English’ idiom in order to emphasise that she is beginning to feel at home in London. The conclusion of Lily’s narrative is almost diametrically opposed to that of The Final Passage’s Leila.
In the final stages 42 Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism of the former novel, it is only after Karim and Charlie have left London for America that they are able to achieve the success and celebrity that they have aspired towards. In turn, the act of returning often goes hand in hand with a sense of defeat and disillusionment. Whenever Karim returns to the suburbs to visit family members he is struck by both the ugliness and the cultural parochialism of the area, and in the final chapter of the novel, on his first day back in England following his (mis)adventures in America, he describes London with the kind of weary disgust with which he previously referred to the suburbs: I walked around central London and saw that the town was being ripped apart; the rotten was being replaced by the new, and the new was ugly.
Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism: Diversity and the Millennial London Novel by Michael Perfect