The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor)

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The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor)

Category: Reference
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An engaging and impactful series of essays illuminating - and centring - the contribution made by British black and Asian communities to the British literary canon. By academics and largely for academics, lay readers may find some of the essays a little dense.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 280 Date: October 2016
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1316504808

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This literary companion offers fifteen essays addressing the contribution of black and Asian authors to the British literary canon since 1945. It covers not just fiction, but also poetry, plays and performance works. It sits as a kind of joyful cuckoo in the nest, interrupting the usual narratives of literary waves and movements in Britain that take little notice of any perspective other than the dominant white - and posh! - direction of travel. It's a disparate, varied collection of essays, covering spoken word performance poetry, black British urban fiction, LGBTQ writing, liberationist writing and much more. I was really happy to see children's authors such as Malorie Blackman, Jamila Gavin and Catherine Johnson discussed and respected.

Covering the post-WWII period of immigration and the formation of a multicultural Britain, the time period of this collection stops in 2010, just short of the Brexit referendum. Reading in 2017, this seems apposite and I certainly feel as though my country is in a period of crisis and flux. What will emerge once Brexit is all over is anybody's guess but we can be sure that the rising levels of xenophobia and nativism will have an effect on the cultural output of British black and Asian creatives and thinkers. It's a punctuation point, right?

I watched a podcast the other day at the LSE by an American legal scholar and she said that she felt black Americans have an instinctive understanding of structural inequality that white Americans simply do not. I think this is also true of Britain, despite our obsession with class, and I think we also will do well to turn to the contributions of black and Asian writers and performers to understand not just race but also politics, identity and the mechanisms that create the society we live in. And, most importantly, the cultural riches that rise up to interrogate them.

For lay readers, there is a lot of academic lingo in The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature and its essays will sometimes feel rather opaque. But it's well worth the effort because the result is to see and consider the literary contribution of black and Asian communities as central to the British cultural landscape, not an adjunct to it. In this, it is an important volume, and a valuable resource. I found it interesting, challenging, and impactful. So thanks to @BlackWriteGold for the opportunity to read it.

Recommended.

You may also be interested in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of London by Laurence Manley (editor).

Buy The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor) at Amazon.com.


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