Postcolonial Literature from across the Globe – University Life

Have you ever received a reading list that filled you with a substantial amount of joy? A stack of books that you not only must read but want to read? If not, reconsider your module choices… and for you unlucky few, (your entire degree…). 

Studying English Literature has the potential to be rather one-dimensional, hardly ever straying from the classics. I luckily have access to a wide variety of authors and texts thanks to modules such as this Postcolonial Literature one. Some of these texts have been translated from their original language and written by non-English authors. Some of these authors are BAME, others come from religious, conservative backgrounds or war-torn countries. A diverse reading list is the beginning of a diverse and inclusive degree course. It will lead to students becoming more knowledgeable about the world in which they live but also perhaps questions their sense of identity, culture and traditions.

Below you will find a short selection of books I must read and reread for this semester. Tell me, have you heard of or read any of these before? What did you think about them?

  1. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, This Earth of Mankind – “Minke is a young Javanese student of great intelligence, sensitivity, and ambition. Living equally among the colonists and colonized of the late nineteenth-century Java, he battles against the confines of the colonial structures. img_2111-1The son of a noble Javanese, he moves easily among the Dutch and their ideas and language but is prevented from enjoying their rights. He also falls desperately in love with the beautiful Indo-European Annelies…”     
  2. V. S. Naipaul, Miguel Street – “Set in a derelict corner of the Port of Spain, Trinidad, during WWII and is narrated by an unnamed, precociously observant neighbourhood boy…”
  3. Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman – “Elesin Oba, the King’s Horseman, has a single destiny. When the king dies, he must commit ritual suicide and lead his King’s favourite horse and dog through the passage to the world of ancestors. A British colonial officer, Pilkings, intervenes…”
  4. Agha Shahid Ali, The Country Without A Post Office – “A collection of poems.
  5. Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place – A powerful portrait of the damaged paradise the author recognizes as her childhood home…”
  6. Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome– “A computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that will change his life forever. When Antar discovers the battered ID card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into the strange life of L. Murugan, a man obsessed with the medical history of malaria…”
  7. Sara Suleri, Meatless Days – “A searing memoir of life in the newly created country of Pakistan. When sudden and shocking tragedies hit the author’s family two years apart, her personal crisis spirals into a wider meditation on universal questions: about being a woman when you’re too busy being a mother or a sister or a wife to consider your own womanhood…”
  8. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis – “The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country… “

*All quotes taken from the texts.

3 fitting words for this post; Books, Enlightenment, Diverse

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