Postcolonial Studies Resources
Afzal-Khan, Fawzia . Lahore With Love: Growing Up With Girlfriends Pakistani Style. Syracuse UP, 2010.
For women growing up in Pakistan s patriarchal, segregated society, it is not surprising that female friendships take on a deep, enduring resonance. These relationships, formed in adolescence and nurtured into adulthood, give Afzal-Khan the strength to be defiant, a wry sense of humor to weather the contradictions in daily Pakistani life, and memories to sustain her as she continues to straddle two continents and two cultures.
In Lahore with Love, Afzal-Khan shares intimate stories of these young girls, and later women, celebrating the strong bonds that helped shape her character. She balances this coming-of-age memoir with a clear-eyed look at a country that evokes both fierce loyalty and utter despair from its inhabitants. The author recalls growing up in the sixties and seventies in Lahore, living in a time of war, attending a Roman Catholic school as a Muslim middle-class teenager, and enduring the constant political upheaval that threatened her freedoms. Afzal-Khan eventually leaves Lahore and moves to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. She recounts the complex mix of longing and alienation that she feels upon returning to visit her homeland and friends.
Lahore with Love offers a rich portrait of daily life in Pakistan. Afzal- Khan gives readers a welcome alternative to the often reductive, flat images of modern Muslim women.
Farooqi, Musharraf Ali . (Tr). The Adventures of Amir Hamza. Modern Library, 2007.
The Adventures of Amir Hamza represents a marvelous dovetailing of fantasy, history and religion. This book demonstrates the ways that colorful storytelling can be an important part of both religious texts and adventure yarns, and the way a charismatic figure may become something very like public property, capturing the popular imagination and giving storytellers a vessel for their ideas.
Lovers of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night will immediately notice many stylistic similarities between the two epics, such as an open-ended story structure that allows one adventure or set of characters to roll endlessly into another. In addition, there’s a familiar cast of supernatural characters, including angels, jinns, giants and dragons. Both works also offer a remarkable use of linguistic flourishes. Here is a true literature of excess — the literary antecedents to Hollywood’s special effects — showering the reader with earthly marvels. There are passages describing the exploits of war, the pleasures of the palace and the hardships of poverty. And there’s a capacious quality, a generosity of imagination that seems to invoke the layers and centuries of storytelling that went into the creation of these books.
Hanif, Mohammed. A Case of Exploding Mangoes. Vintage, 2009.
On August 17, 1988, Pak One, the airplane carrying Pakistani dictator General Zia and several top generals, crashed, killing all on board –and despite continued investigation, a smoking gun–mechanical or conspiratorial–has yet to be found. Mohammed Hanif’s outrageous debut novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, tracks at least two (and as many as a half-dozen) assassination vectors to their convergence in the plane crash, incorporating elements as diverse as venom-tipped sabers, poison gas, the curses of a scorned First Lady, and a crow impaired by an overindulgence of ripe mangoes. The book has been aptly compared to Catch-22 for its hilarious (though not quite as madcap) skewering of the Pakistani military and intelligence infrastructure, but it also can trace its lineage to Don DeLillo, doing for Pakistan what Libra did for JFK conspiracy theory, and Kafka’s The Trial, with its paranoid-but-true take on pathological bureaucracy. Recent events pushing Pakistan into the worst kind of headlines make A Case of Exploding Mangoes a timely and entertaining read, and when a mysterious bearded man called “OBL” makes an appearance at a Fourth of July party for U.S. military brass, we’re coolly reminded of the fickleness of opportunistic policy in unpredictable lands. –Jon Foro
Mamdani, Mahmood. Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror. Doubleday, 2010.
From the author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim comes an important book, unlike any other, that looks at the crisis in Darfur within the context of the history of Sudan and examines the world’s response to that crisis.
In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war (1987—89) between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the south, triggered by a severe drought that had expanded the Sahara Desert by more than sixty miles in forty years; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population into “native” and “settler” tribes and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter; how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency–but not to genocide, as the West has declared.
(Available at Amazon.com)
M’Bay, Babacar. The Trickster Comes West: Pan-African Influence in Early Black Diasporan Narratives. University Press of Mississippi, 2009.
In the past, scholars have looked at narratives of the African diaspora only to discover how these memoirs, poems, and fictions related to the West. The Trickster Comes West: Pan-African Influence in Early Black Diasporan Narratives explores relationships among African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-British narratives of slavery and of New World and British oppression and what African influences brought to these diasporic expressions.
Using an interdisciplinary method that combines history, literary theory, cultural studies, anthropology, folklore, and philosophy, the book examines the work of Pan-African trickster icons, such as Leuk (Rabbit), Golo (Monkey), Bouki (Hyena), Mbe (Tortoise), and Anancy (Spider), on the resistance strategies of early black writers who were exposing the evils of slavery, racism, sexism, economic exploitation, and other forms of oppression.
Works discussed in this book include Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), Quobna Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1795), Elizabeth Hart Thwaites’s “History of Methodism” (1804), Anne Hart Gilbert’s “History of Methodism” (1804), and Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave, Related By Herself (1831). Analyzing these writings in the context of the black Atlantic struggle for freedom, The Trickster Comes West relocates the beginnings of Pan-Africanism and suggests the strong influence of its theories of communal resistance, racial solidarity, and economic development on pioneering black narratives.
(Available at Amazon.com)
Mueenuddin, Daniyal. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders. (Stories). Norton, 2009.
From The Washington Post’s Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Michael Dirda Because of Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Rohinton Mistry, to mention just a few of the most prominent authors, American readers have long been able to enjoy one terrific Indian novel after another. But Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is likely to be the first widely read book by a Pakistani writer. Mueenuddin spent his early childhood in Pakistan, then lived in the United States — he attended Dartmouth and Yale — and has since returned to his father’s homeland, where he and his wife now manage a farm in Khanpur. These connected stories show us what life is like for both the rich and the desperately poor in Mueenuddin’s country, and the result is a kind of miniaturized Pakistani “human comedy.”
(Available at Amazon.com)
Ngugi wa’Thiong’o. Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir. Pantheon, 2010
When Ngugi is accepted into an elite high school in Kenya, worried about where to get a pair of shoes, his brother is a Mau Mau guerrilla in the mountains. The world-renowned Kenyan writer looks back at his growing up in the 1950s in this crisp, clearly told memoir, which evokes the rising African nationalism of the era in all its conflict and complexity. The many fans of Ngugi’s fiction will feel the truth of the young man’s viewpoint and applaud his blasting of stereotypes about the country the whites had “discovered.” Marcus Garvey is Ngugi’s inspiration, both for his sense of self-reliance and for his ideas about nationalism versus the missionary and colonial projects, “which always assumed the fragility of the African mind.” He remembers “settler newspapers” that portray terrorist massacre “without rhyme or reason” while the freedom fighters have no media to voice their side. A fascinating look at twentieth-century African history, but also a moving intellectual odyssey in which Ngugi learns to revere both modernity and tradition but to reserve a healthy skepticism of both. –Hazel Rochman.