Renegotiating the Asian-British domestic community in recent fiction

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    This article identifies a significant change in how the Asian‐British family unit has been represented fictionally since 2000. The 1990s trend of celebrating cultural differences has arguably given way to a new wave of diaspora fiction which contains more social critique than sentimentalized aspects of multiculturalism. Far from portraying the migrant family unit as simply a domestic stronghold against encroaching western values, novels such as Monica Ali's Brick Lane (2003), Cauvery Madhavan's The Uncoupling (2002), Kamila Shamsie's Salt and Saffron (2000) and Zadie Smith's White Teeth (2000) interrogate the stasis – and sacredness – of the questionably “traditional” Asian‐British family unit. Using Julia Kristeva's notion of the “foreigner”, this article argues that many of the first‐ and second‐generation migrants in these novels pass through a trajectory of developmental stages which include: (1) an unrealistic idealization of the host community; (2) a rejection of and by the host community; (3) a melancholic nostalgia for the culture of origin; (4) a search for a new domestic community; and most crucially (5) a recognition of the need to renegotiate the boundaries of the domestic, extended‐family unit so that they can reflect the changing social structures of multicultural, postmodern, postcolonial Britain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-179
    JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2009


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