Rewriting the Metropolis
By John McLeod
Routledge – 2004 – 224 pages
London's histories of migration and settlement and the resulting diverse, hybrid communities have engendered new forms of social and cultural activity reflected in a wealth of novels, poems, films and songs. Postcolonial London explores the imaginative transformation of the city by African, Asian, Caribbean and South Pacific writers since the 1950s.
John McLeod engages freshly with the work of both well-known and emergent writers, including Sam Selvon, Doris Lessing, V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Colin MacInnes, Bernardine Evaristo, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Fred D'Aguiar. In reading a select body of writing in its social contexts and exploring contrasting attitudes to London's diasporic transformation, he traces an exciting history of resistance to the prejudice and racism that have at least in part characterised the postcolonial city. Rewritings of London, he argues, bear witness to the determination, imagination and creativity of the city's migrants and their descendants.
This is a superb study of the ways in which 'imperial centre' might be rewritten as postcolonial metropolis. It represents essential reading for those interested in British or postcolonial literature, or in theorisations of the city and metropolitan culture.
'In recent years, postcolonial studies has begun to focus on questions of how space is represented within what were once seen as 'imperial centres'. This book links this new focus with questions which open up the 'national' and thereby addresses issues which have always been important, such as the extent to which our visions of the national have been built on migrant and diasporic, colonial and postcolonial identities. Thus we are forced to question the extent to which London has always in a sense been a transformative 'postcolonial' space not only after Empire, or after immigration, but before.' - Susheila Nasta, Open University, UK
' … a smart, interesting and well-written book.' - Wasafiri
'McLeod's fascinating book warrants the type of critical appreciatuion that one can only seldom bestow…it is engaging, refreshingly free of jargonistic compulsions, superbly attentive to detail - both historical-urban and textual - and, most importantly, responsive to the subtle networks of sensibilty and imagination which have changed the face of London in so many ways over the last fifty years.' - Cristina Sandru, The Journal of the English Association,
Acknowledgements Introduction: Locating Postcolonial London 1. Making a Song and Dance Sam Selvon and Colin MacInnes 2. London, England3. Living Room 4. Babylon's Burning5. Millennial Currents'No Fenky-Fenky Road' Bibliography
John McLeod is a lecturer in English at the University of Leeds. He has written on postcolonial literature for a variety of publications, including Wasafiri, Interventions and Journal of Commonwealth Literature and is the author of Beginning Postcolonialism (2000).