Reconfiguring the Past

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Jung Su

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Department of English, NTNU


This paper aims at exploring the representation of post-imperial London in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia with a view to highlighting how the post-colonial history of Britain is re-written by the above two writers through the alternative cityscapes they depict in their works. I argue that the protagonists of the novels, Saladin and Karim, reflect on their attitudes toward the past via the act of flânerie. The act of strolling will be treated as a spatial politics that helps relativize these two immigrant protagonists' positions in the city of London. The routes of their journeys not only limn the alternative cityscape of the transforming empire but also disclose the socially and politically marginalized immigrant communities which are either demonized or stereotyped in the racialization of space. The reconfiguration of the past in the two novels, looked at in this way, is not just a remapping of the city; rather, it reveals the need to re-examine how Asian British writers deal with the past, on the one hand, and aspire to carve out a niche for themselves in the contemporary British society, on the other.