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By Michael Perfect

Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism analyses novels of the past due 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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Example text

However, Ali is to lose the ‘relief’ of being someone else that visits to Miss Blake afford him, and in this sense ‘Touched’ is an inversion of ‘The Body’. A seemingly kindly, lonely woman who asks Ali about school and gives him money in exchange for lighting cigarettes for her, when Miss Blake finds out that Ali is half-Indian she immediately tries to initiate a sexual relationship with him, paying him to allow her to touch his body. Indeed, she begins to touch him ‘as if she had never touched another human being and wanted to know what it was like’ (pp.

While Stein’s argument for reading Intimacy as ‘postethnic’ is one that might seem to help locate the novel within Kureishi’s oeuvre Multiculturalism and the Work of Hanif Kureishi 39 (particularly in relation to his earlier work), it is much more problematic to argue that that whole oeuvre itself could be described as postethnic. The risk, as with the postcolonial, is that readings of his work become predisposed towards searching for particular types, and strategies, of resistance; in this case, resistance against ‘the regime of ethnicity’ rather than the regime of imperialism.

Finally, it might be said that the texts on which this book focuses address completely different ‘Londons’. The North West London of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, for example, is a very different place from the East London borough of Tower Hamlets that we encounter in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. Londonstani’s Hounslow is very different again. While Chapter 6 of this book examines Brian Chikwava’s Harare North alongside Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand, the Brixton of the former is a world away from the affluent, leafy Kingston-upon-Thames of the latter.

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