The multiculturalism we want to see

Do successful “multicultural” novels, like Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, sugarcoat the actual hardships of immigrant life to satisfy the demands of the publishing industry? In “Marketplace Multiculturalism,” M. K. Chakrabarti says yes:

It is hard not to conclude that Monica Ali shied away from the tough truth because opening the narrative to the troubled reality of British multiculturalism would have violated the basic dictate of the Zadie Phenomenon as seen by the publishing industry: the financial pull of the potential bestseller demands that a writer beset her characters with such familiar, mainstream problems as adultery rather than engage with the unfamiliar, distasteful, dark side of multiculturalism—the real multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural society that the majority of us do not want to see. This is where the cheat of the successful commercial “multicultural novel” is laid bare: for all its multicultural packaging, Brick Lane is a strictly monocultural, “see-they-are-just-like-us” affair.

(Via The Antic Muse.)


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