Sara Suleri, Salman Rushdie, and Post-Colonialism
Yishane Lee '91 (English 137, 1990)
Suleri has explicitly stated that her novel covers a history as it is a function of post-colonialism: "There is a post colonial inextricability between Indian history and the characters. They can't be separated; it is a shared condition" (interview, December 1990). The novel weds public and private histories to such a degree that the two cannot be differentiated in an absolute sense. Perhaps for this reason Suleri often is compared to Rushdie, who writes from a similar background: an Indian of her generation displaced to London. Both writers' prose evokes the rhythm, syntax, and diction of Urdu, but Suleri says Rushdie's writing is much more grounded in the blending of the two languages. Suleri adds that any further fiction that she may write inevitably will be about Pakistan via the West or vice versa. In any case, Suleri says her work sits "between genres," at once neither fiction nor non-fiction. "There's a lot of fiction in it. Some of the characters I invented, some of the incidents I invented. Minor things, when it was necessary," she says. Lest the reader assume entire key passages were fabricated, Suleri admits she changed mostly temporal elements such as chronology. For example, she is not sure that when her mother was teaching Emma that she was involved in the theater: "I compressed time, brought it closer together" so that the scene would work, she says (interview, December 1990).
Last modified 18 May 2001