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Excerpts from Reviews for Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism

  • "Focusing primarily on texts that are bedrocks of the 'postcolonial London canon' – for example, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003), Andrea Levy’s Small Island (2004) and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) – Michael Perfect’s engaging, timely and lucidly-written book in many ways revisits familiar 'foreign' territory. His aim, however, is to 'enable future critical reconfigurations of [these authors'] oeuvres' (199), and he successfully prompts readers to critically review the practice of locating these fictions within a solely postcolonial interpretative frame. [...] Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism, which provides a comprehensive survey of the field (charting significant shifts and suggesting potential future directions), serves as a valuable stimulus to revisit and cast new light on well-known texts as well as check out the lesser-known, more recent fictions that are steering critical debates forward."

  • "Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism makes a critical departure from works that use authorial ethnicity as a mode of selection and categorization [...]. This marks a new intervention into studies of the literature of multicultural Britain, and, as Perfect rightly argues, 'to attempt to imagine the plight of an "other" is […] a constitutive part of a genuine multiculture' (10). In this manner, the work deftly avoids the ethnic essentialisms and reductions that have plagued studies of black British/British Asian literatures that unduly prioritize the ethnicity of the author over the subject of the writing. Perfect's readings reveal shifting attitudes towards London’s multiculturalism and the importance of literature in reflecting and shaping an evolving discourse. Following an introduction that clearly contextualizes accounts of multicultural London and draws attention to its own necessary limitations (selectivity, the existence of many 'Londons'), the rest of the study is structured chronologically, with all but one chapter devoted to an individual author. The book offers a compelling narrative through shifting fictions of multiculturalism set in London, drawing upon both celebrated novelists such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, Andrea Levy and Zadie Smith, and those who are critically maligned, including Gautam Malkani and Brian Chikwava. [...] Perfect makes a valuable contribution to the mapping of a body of literature. The strengths of this work undoubtedly lie in its sensitive readings and comprehensive analysis of some key novels of the 21st century and it will inevitably prove to be a useful resource for students of contemporary British literature."

  • "In Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism, Michael Perfect presents new ways of reading seminal, recent works concerning migration: to dive deep into fiction concerning those carried on the swell and tide of emigré London. Perfect's text is not for the casual reader – it is too intricate, dense even, for that – but neither is it for a boxed-in audience of academics and students. For those willing to invest time, their effort will be repaid, and with interest. Many of the points detonate, and with a real force – this work is no exercise in niceties. But there is no showboating either – it is detailed, surgical, occasionally wounding […] but never ostentatious or 'precious'. Without doubt, a boon for the serious reader."

  • "Michael Perfect's Contemporary Fictions of Multiculturalism begins with an engaging analysis of the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Perfect's careful reading of the event showcases many of the strengths of his study of the millennial London novel. [...] The book's opening vignette is aptly chosen. Like Boyle's ceremony, Perfect's monograph offers a critical yet broadly affirmative reading of the contemporary moment."

  • "A valuable contribution to the increasing interest in the contemporary literature of London that highlights the range and diversity of writing associated with postcolonial, black, and Asian fiction."

  • "Perfect's meta-critical approach demonstrates some of the ways contemporary writers and their work can be misunderstood if we only read it through the language of postcolonialism – and, at the same time, the productive possibilities of reading texts typically understood differently in conversation with postcolonial criticism."