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Imagining Bombay, London, New York and Beyond

South Asian Diasporic Writing from 1990 to the Present

Maria Ridda

This book examines new literary imaginings of the interconnected city spaces of Bombay, London and New York in South Asian diasporic texts from the 1990s to the present. It charts the transition from London-centric studies on postcolonial city spaces to the new axis of Bombay, London and New York.
The book argues that two key dynamics have developed from this shift: on the one hand, London, once the destination of choice for migrants, becomes a «transit zone» for onward movement to New York; on the other, different cities are perceived to coexist and come together in one single location. To investigate these new webs of interactions and power relations, this monograph employs Bakhtin’s model of the chronotope. Serving as a magnifying lens, the chronotope inserts different spatial and temporal segments within wider narratives of urban space. This book promotes a new understanding of the cities of the South Asian diaspora as subversive sites for defining processes of cultural signification.
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Chapter 6: The Inheritance of Loss and Midnight’s Grandchildren: The Collision of South and North, Kalimpong and New York


← 210 | 211 → CHAPTER 6

The Inheritance of Loss and Midnight’s Grandchildren: The Collision of South and North, Kalimpong and New York

This chapter looks at a new, emerging form of transnational urbanism: one where travel across the metropolitan axis of Bombay, London and New York is impeded by class and social differences. In the previous chapters I had argued that the process of homing the postcolonial city resulted in the accommodation of the chronotopes of colonialism, postcolonialism and globalisation. In this chapter I examine the ways in which the collision of imaginary and real locales creates disjunctures and gaps in the city as well as in the text as a whole. Focussing on Desai’s writing, I argue that the different process of imagining urban space in The Inheritance of Loss aligns itself with the orientations of a new group of South Asian American authors representing the obstacles of travel and mobility in an unevenly globalised world.

Introducing Gaps

Kiran Desai belongs to a group of South Asian American authors who represent the city as a dialogical space of oppositional localities through the idiom of quotidian life. Rather than imagining cities as sites of harmonious encounters between cultures, Desai charts the fractures generated by globalisation in postcolonial and neo-imperial metropolitan locations. In The Inheritance of Loss the dialogue between global, colonial and postcolonial chronotopes creates a number of ‘dividing’ lines between New York ← 211 | 212 → and Kalimpong. Parashkevova suggests that these lines, which...

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