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81 4. Suhayl Saadi: The Third Space of Fiction Writing from yet another perspective than Strachan, Donovan, McDermid or Robertson, Suhayl Saadi published Psychoraag in 2004, a novel considered as one of the first novels of Scottish-Asian identity and which, as such, was compared with both Salman Rushdie’s and Irvine Welsh’s works. Saadi’s work brings an added dimension to Habermas’s concept of the ‘postnational constellation’ in which, according to Jürgen Neubauer (1999: 12), ‘interaction[s] are both more local and more global than the nations’.1 This definition is indeed particularly fitting for a writer who sketches the contours of a national identity that takes into account how the British-Asian component segues into a Scottish-Asian sense of identity. As can be seen from Zaf’s assertion in Psychoraag that ‘we were all Glaswegians’ (P, 360), the space of fiction that is mapped out by Saadi’s works redefines the national, the postnational, but also the ideas of multiculturalism and post-ethnicity in that they examine identity ‘from perspectives broader than race’.2 It is indeed a third avenue, that will be called a third space of fiction in connection with Homi Bhabha’s concept of the third space, which Saadi’s ambitious fiction sets out to delineate, by giving the ‘mongrel nation’ a distinctly, militantly Scottish-Asian flavour. Psychoraag indeed presents itself as a multilingual, Scots-Asian stream of consciousness narrative, which incorporates Persian, Urdu and Arabic words, but also ‘Weedgie patter’,3 and which follows the thoughts of a DJ through his last show on Radio Chaandni – moonlight – before the station is closed down. The Junnune Show – the show of madness – is a six-hour rant during Zaf’s stint on the graveyard shift of the radio programme (midnight to six). The narrative, divided into six sections to cover the six-hour programme, takes the listener and the reader on a musical and ruminative trip in Zaf’s consciousness, in which memories and stories are kick-started by the various songs he plays, a hotchpotch of influences which range from psychedelic songs by sixties bands like the Beatles, the Byrds or Kaleidoscope, to Celtic rock, Pakistani bands, jazz material like the music of John Coltrane, Bombay films songs from 1902 to the 1990s, and various contemporary bands, not least of which is contemporary British-Asian music by the likes of Susheela Raman, Sheila Shandra and Cornershop. For 82 the space of fiction Sarah Upstone (2010: 201), this eclectic musical selection serves to evidence the ‘identity remix’ achieved by Saadi’s fiction, as well as bolstering its postethnic credentials.4 Joseph’s Box, published in 2009, is an epic narrative of a different kind, as the protagonists, Zuleikha and Alex, embark on a geographical and spiritual journey which takes them from Glasgow to England, then to Italy and Pakistan, as well as into the mysteries of identity as represented by the initiation trip guided by the seven chambers and six boxes contained in the large box they fish out of the Clyde. Saadi, who was born in Yorkshire and has lived most of his life in Scotland, but who is of Pakistani origin – a ‘ScotPak’, like his protagonists Zaf and Zuleikha – describes himself as a dissident writer, pointing out that he does not belong to ‘the Hyper-Hip Multicoloured Multicultural Metropolitan London-Oxbridge “Liberal” Literary Mafia’.5 In his own definition of the categories of writers to have emerged in Scotland in recent years, he is one of those writers who are ‘moving in’, ‘writers who hail from other cultures bringing something of their own ancestors’ experiences with them, those experiences exerting themselves, either consciously or otherwise, in fresh contexts in their writing’.6 He insists that those writers produce novels which move away from ‘safe multiculturalism’, that is the ‘fashionable tracts where normative absolutes are almost never thrown into question’7 or, to borrow Asif Farrukhi’s words, the ‘pre-packaged “multicultural” stuff which so many people are dabbling in to [sic] these days’.8 Psychoraag – and to a lesser extent Joseph’s Box – can therefore be seen as one of those novels written against what Edward Said describes as disempowering Orientalism or, more recently, Stanley Fish’s updated description of a peculiar contemporary form of Orientalism, ‘boutique multiculturalism’: Boutique multiculturalism is the multiculturalism of ethnic restaurants , weekend festivals, and high profile flirtations with the other in the manner satirised by Tom Wolfe under the rubric of ‘radical chic’. Boutique multiculturalism...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781908980120
Related ISBN
9781908980090
MARC Record
OCLC
909456906
Pages
232
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-19
Language
English
Open Access
No
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