Magazine article Herizons

[What Was Always Hers]

Magazine article Herizons

[What Was Always Hers]

Article excerpt

As a critic of South Asian Canadian literature, Uma Parameswaran has withstood the pressure that immigrant writers often experience to produce work about their homelands rather than their adopted country. This demand for the 'exotic' relies on damaging stereotypes and prevents writers (and the communities they represent) from making themselves physically and culturally at home here, keeping them in a perpetual state of exile. Parameswaran has also pointed out that most popular postcolonial theory serves to foreground 'white' perspectives. To present the formerly 'colonized' as completely overdetermined by colonial history involves an arrogant and solipsistic presumption, as though these communities are so damaged and impoverished that interrelations with white folk (both past and present) are their sole concern.

As a poet, playwright, and cultural worker in the South Asian Canadian community, Parameswaran has consistently worked against these negative trends, claiming instead the vitality and wholeness of a culture transplanted into a new land, "rootless but green," to use one of her metaphors. This is not to say that she avoids the issues of racism, homesickness, and dislocation which characterize diasporic cultures, but rather that she writes first and foremost from and of a community which has its own concerns, agendas, and full humanity.

Parameswaran's first book of prose fiction, What Was Always Hers, which won the 1999 New Muse Award, continues this pattern. The four short stories and one novella are set primarily in Canada, and present characters who--against the backdrop of white society and the problems it generates--are concerned foremost with issues of love and belonging, family and community. …

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