Review of The Transformation of Political Identity from Commonwealth through Postcolonial Literature

This is a well-intentioned and sometimes well-written study, a book that one wants to like, coming as it does from a place that has not figured prominently in anglophone mappings of postcolonial writing: Tunisia. In some ways it is unexpected, not least in its bringing together three writers - Nadine Gordimer, David Malouf, and Michael Ondaatje - who as a group do not immediately seem the most obvious candidates for exemplifying postcolonial agendas. In other ways it is very predictable, as the evidence it marshals to support its contentions is based on a very familiar litany of commentators, working within the North American, Australasian and European academies, who have constructed postcolonialism in ways that mainly minister to the needs of Western readers. Along with theorists at large - such as Derrida, Lacan and Habermas - Bhabha, Ashcroft (on several occasions engagingly cited as 'Billy'), and Appiah figure prominently; without wishing in any way to interrogate the validity and influence of their work, one is left feeling that the book is just a little bit too cosy and dutiful in its adherence to their ideas.

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Published 1 October 2008 in Volume 23 No. 3. Subjects: Postcolonial criticism.

Cite as: Thieme, John. ‘Review of The Transformation of Political Identity from Commonwealth through Postcolonial Literature.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2008. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.65d0350411.