Black British Literature

Novels of Transformation

Mark Stein

“Stein explores novels of transformation by both famous writers (Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi) and writers less well known (Andrea Levy, David Dabydeen). . . . Texts by writers (both male and female) of Indo-Caribbean, African, and South Asian heritage fall within Stein’s purview, and though both cultural and postcolonial theory inform his study, Stein writes with an energetic clarity that makes this study suitable for a broad audience.” —Choice

“Stein provides here a fresh, innovative, and much needed exploration of such major writers as Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, and Caryl Phillips, setting them in a fully delineated literary and cultural context. He also brings to our attention the significance of such lesser known but equally inventive writers as Andrea Levy, Jackie Kay, and David Dabydeen. This timely and interesting book is written with a clarity of tone, style, and approach that makes it appropriate for undergraduates and advanced scholars alike.” —C. L. Innes, University of Kent, Canterbury

“This comprehensive book exhaustively articulates a critical apparatus for reading black British literature. Stein writes unpretentiously, making his complex ideas accessible to both novices and experts in the field.” —Timothy Brennan, University of Minnesota

In this fascinating book, Mark Stein examines “black British literature,” centering on a body of work created by British-based writers with African, South Asian, or Caribbean cultural backgrounds. Linking black British literature to the bildungsroman genre, this study examines the transformative potential inscribed in and induced by a heterogeneous body of texts. Capitalizing on their plural cultural attachments, these texts portray and purvey the transformation of post-imperial Britain. Stein locates his wide-ranging analysis in both a historical and a literary context. He argues that a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach is essential to understanding post-colonial culture and society. The book relates black British literature to ongoing debates about cultural diversity, and thereby offers a way of reading a highly popular but as yet relatively uncharted field of cultural production.

With the collapse of its empire, with large-scale immigration from former colonies, and with ever-increasing cultural diversity, Britain underwent a fundamental makeover in the second half of the twentieth century. This volume cogently argues that black British literature is not only a commentator on and a reflector of this makeover, but that it is simultaneously an agent that is integral to the processes of cultural and social change. Conceptualizing the novel of transformation, this comprehensive study of British black literature provides a compelling analytic framework for charting these processes.

Mark Stein is junior professor of theories of non-European literatures and cultures, University of Potsdam, Germany.  

Oct 2004
20th-century British literature, Black authors and Asian authors in Britain, comparative literature, ethnic, cultural, and postcolonial studies
288 pp. 6 x 9 3 illus.

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