Postcolonialism: My Living

Article excerpt

POSTCOLONIALISM: MY LIVING.

TSAR BOOKS.

1998. 242 PP. $21.95

BY ARUN MUKHERJEE.

Postcolonialism: My Living is a collection of 16 essays by Arun Mukherjee, one of the most articulate literary critics of Canadian multiculturalism. Most of the essays were published between 1993 and 1998 in various literary journals. Mukherjee's first collection of critical essays, Towards an Aesthetics of Opposition, in which she developed a thesis that contemporary literary criticism is essentially Eurocentric and imperialistic, met with a conspiracy of silence when it appeared in 1988. That 16 essays on related topics have been published in reputed journals in the last six years bears testimony both to Mukherjee's productivity and the winds of change brought about by critics and activists such as herself.

Arun Mukherjee came to Canada in 1971 as a graduate student. She says that during her years in the Ph.D. Program, she went through a transformative period where she found her voice and courage to resist authority. She is on the faculty of York University and teaches courses in postcolonial literatures.

Mukherjee speaks directly and personally about literary theories, texts and pedagogical approaches. Every essay makes significant contributions to revising the old literary canon to make room for the realities of how literature reflects class, race and gender issues in society. Because I am slated to teach a postcolonial course, I was particularly interested in the essays that dealt with the teaching of texts - "First World Readers, Third World Texts," "How Shall We Read South Asian Canadian Texts?" "Teaching Racial Minority Writing," "Whose Postcolonialism, Whose Postmodernism?" She discusses the problems related to culture-specific texts, and the dangers of universalist readings that blur and erase the very specificities that distinguish non-white texts from mainstream texts. …