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558 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 'bankruptcy of race and ethnicity' and a few pages later comments on the proposition that the most obvious way to avoid divisions between ethnic and mainstream is to turn hyphenation into the norm of Canadian culture. Fee's recognition that her proposal would not be 'accepted' by the group we call the mainstream is only part of the problem. How can race and ethnicity be bankrupt concepts when one of the leitmotifs of the writers in the volume is the construction of identity? Are not race and etlmicity among the ingredients out of which identity is fashioned? As Mistry says, writers of fiction are not experts in race relationsi neither perhaps are literary critics. Not surprisingly, having wavered on these matters, the introduction also fails to engage the central issue the writers themselves grapple with: depicting Canada through either the memory of another place (Trinidad, Barbados, Prague, Bombay) or through the vicissitudes of an ethnic group Qapanese Canadians). Of the five of them, four were born elsewhere and migrated to Canada in their late youth or as already formed adults. And to engage that issue properly would require increasing the number of authors nnder discussion to include writers from the immigrant milieu who reached Canada before their teens or who were born here, especially writers with a European past who have lived the experience of settling on Canadian soil in more typical terms than Skvorecky (a great writer but hardly your everyday immigrant). For they also offer a different perspective. Going beyond the mere recognition of Canada's postcolonialmulticultural moment, beyond the acknowledgment of the ideology ofrace and ethnicity, means looking at how the presence of writers such as Bissoondath, Clarke, Mistry, and Kogawa has altered the contours of literary Canadianness as a whole. Among the challenges the criticism of Canadian fiction must now face is how to relocate the likes of Frank Paci, Nino Ricci, Kristina Gunnars, J.J. Steinfeld, and Rudy Wiebe, those writers who cannot be associated either with the ex-colonizers or the ex-colonized and for whom Canada never was or is no longer a home away from horne. To be up to the task we have to learn once again how to compare. While this book provides excellent descriptions of some specific individual authors, it leaves us on our own with regard to the assumptions governing this other dimension. It proves that while we may no longer be compelled to lionize critical self-reflexiveness, we still need as much of it as we can get. (FRANCESCO LORIGGIO) Chelva Kanaganayakam. Dark Antonyms and Paradise. The Poetry ofRienzi Crusz TSAR. 90. $15.95 With seven books of poetry to his credit, Rienzi Crusz presents an interesting touchstone for the real feelings of Canadian writers towards HUMANITIES 559 those whom we label'multicultural' or 'ethnic' but who, to take only such prominent examples as Rohinton Mistry or M.G. Vassanji, are playmg an ever more important role in new Canadian literature. Growing up devoutly Catholic in Sri Lanka, a country that is predominantly Buddhist and Hindu; educated in English schools and coming from the same 'Burgher' section of society as Michael Ondaatje, thus ethnically too in a minority; and motivated as much by personal as by political reasons, Crusz came to Canada in 1965. It is, then, one of the services of Chelva Kanaganayakam, himself originally from Sri Lanka, to make clear the richness and the complexities of the traditions that Crusz was drawing . upon even before he emigrated to Canada. Once here, Crusz inevitably had thrust upon him another layer of 'marginality' or 'centrality' or, if we accept Kanaganayakam's analysis of the work, a unique amalgam of both. He documents, for instance, how Crusz has 'often been forced to assume a hyphenated identity, to wear the mantle of a multicultural writer,' with all its attendant political and social overtones of alienation and exile. Of course Crusz has encountered racism and written about it in some ofhis poetry but that is only a small part of his literary identity, for, as Kanaganayakam persuasively remarks, 'literature of the diaspora, in its concern with the experience of two worlds, serves the useful function...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 558-560
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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