MADHUMITA LAHIRI Ankhi Mukherjee, What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014. xiv + 272 pp. $65.00 cloth; $24.95 paper. n his classic novel of 1970s London, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), Hanif Kureishi stages an encounter between the Britishborn, half-Pakistani narrator, Karim, and the newly arrived South Asian immigrant Changez. Karim asks, "What do you like to read?," and Changez replies: "The classics," [Changez] said firmly. [Karim] saw that he had a pompous side to him, so certain he seemed in taste and judgment. "You like classics too?" "You don't mean that Greek shit? Virgil or Dante or Homo or something?" "P. G. Wodehouse and Conan Doyle for me! Can you take me to Sherlock Holmes's house in Baker Street? I also like the Saint and Mickey Spillane. And Westerns! Anything with Randolph Scott in it! Or Gary Cooper! Or John Wayne!"1 The postcolonial attitude to the classics, Kureishi suggests, pairs enthusiastic admiration with crass ignorance: the category of the classic, as the towering achievement of Western civilization, has been retained, but the priority given to literary genius has been displaced by the genius of commercial fiction: Arthur
Contemporary Literature – University of Wisconsin Press
Published: May 20, 2015
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