Reference : Semper Incertus: Authorization through Uncertainty in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His ...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Literature
Semper Incertus: Authorization through Uncertainty in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart: Reading my Father
Munos, Delphine mailto [Université de Liège > Département de langues et littératures modernes > Langue et littérature allemandes modernes >]
Illuminating Lives: The Biographical Impulse in Postcolonial Literatures
2-3 March 2017
[en] Hanif Kuresihi ; Memoir ; Postcolonial genre
[en] In Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Sarah Brouillette discusses “the centrality of questions of biography in reception of postcolonial texts” (173). She argues that, as against “the supposed dominant orthodoxy of anti-authorialism in literary studies” (173), successful marketing of postcolonial literature depends on – indeed requires – “biographical authenticity” so that postcolonial writers can figure valid interpreters of an authenticated location for an Anglo-American audience “schooled in multiculturalism.”
Brouillette’s perception that the marketing of postcolonial writing depends on the coincidence between literary material and the biographical self of its author raises fascinating questions when it comes to examining ‘postcolonial’ biographies and autobiographies already relying on a “referential pact” (cf. Lejeune) because of their generic anatomy. Biographical fiction, then is a postcolonial nightmare come true, as the specificities of the genre endlessly displace the demand for “biographical authenticity” that is seen by Brouillette to condition the niche marketing of postcolonial literature. This paper looks at Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart: Reading My Father (2004), in which the popular British Asian author narrativizes his ambivalent relationship with his father and retraces his father’s life from British India to the UK of the 1960s and 1970s. What is interesting is that Kureishi both relies on memory and on two unpublished ‘fictional’ texts by his late father to reconstruct the latter’s life, thus “imagining around [others’] imagination” (2004: 238), as he phrases it, that is, embracing fiction – not only memory – as a valid starting point for representing the life of his father. Susie Thomas writes that “It is a major irony that Kureishi, as a reader, approaches his father’s novels in a way that he would doubtless object to if his own fiction were raided for its autobiographical content” (2006: 189). My claim is that this “major irony” becomes a means, for Kureishi, of authorizing himself a place outside the ‘British Asian ghetto’ by playing up to the expectations of postcolonial niche marketing.
Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes post‐coloniales - CEREP
Researchers ; Professionals

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