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'Tell it slant' : postcoloniality and the fiction of biographical authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father

Delphine Munos (UGent)
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Abstract
In Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Sarah Brouillette expands on Graham Huggan’s exploration of the current entanglement between “the language of resistance” inherent to postcolonialism and “the language of commerce” intrinsic to postcoloniality (Huggan, 2001: 264). Connecting the successful marketing of postcolonial writing with the regime of postcoloniality, Brouillette argues that such a regime requires or projects a “biographical connection” (2007: 4) between text and author so that even postcolonial fiction can be thought of as offering a supposedly authentic or unmediated access to the cultural other. This article discusses Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart: Reading My Father (2004), in which the British Asian author narrativizes his ambivalent relationship with his father and retraces the latter’s trajectory from India to the UK of the 1960s and 1970s. My aim is to show how this memoir is very much concerned with the relationship between postcolonialism and postcoloniality even as it foregrounds issues of genre, authorship, and (af)filiation. Highlighting the ambiguities and impossibilities inherent in any referential pact (see Lejeune, 1975), My Ear at His Heart not only complicates the demand for “biographical authenticity” that is seen by Brouillette to condition the niche marketing of postcolonial literatures, the memoir also alludes to the reception of Kureishi’s own work, which was framed by “autobiographical” readings of his early novels. Through an analysis of the ways in which My Ear at His Heart re-places issues of postcoloniality and genre at the heart of the father–son relationship, I wish to suggest that Kureishi still has “something to tell us” about the commodification of “minority” cultures, provided that postcolonial scholarship starts taking issues of form seriously.
Keywords
Literature and Literary Theory, Father-son relationship, Hanif Kureishi, memoir, postcolonial biography, postcoloniality and postcolonialism

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MLA
Munos, Delphine. “’Tell It Slant’ : Postcoloniality and the Fiction of Biographical Authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father.” JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE, vol. 55, no. 3, 2020, pp. 376–90, doi:10.1177/0021989418824372.
APA
Munos, D. (2020). ’Tell it slant’ : postcoloniality and the fiction of biographical authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father. JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE, 55(3), 376–390. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989418824372
Chicago author-date
Munos, Delphine. 2020. “’Tell It Slant’ : Postcoloniality and the Fiction of Biographical Authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father.” JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE 55 (3): 376–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989418824372.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Munos, Delphine. 2020. “’Tell It Slant’ : Postcoloniality and the Fiction of Biographical Authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father.” JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE 55 (3): 376–390. doi:10.1177/0021989418824372.
Vancouver
1.
Munos D. ’Tell it slant’ : postcoloniality and the fiction of biographical authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father. JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE. 2020;55(3):376–90.
IEEE
[1]
D. Munos, “’Tell it slant’ : postcoloniality and the fiction of biographical authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father,” JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 376–390, 2020.
@article{8634377,
  abstract     = {In Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Sarah Brouillette expands on Graham Huggan’s exploration of the current entanglement between “the language of resistance” inherent to postcolonialism and “the language of commerce” intrinsic to postcoloniality (Huggan, 2001: 264). Connecting the successful marketing of postcolonial writing with the regime of postcoloniality, Brouillette argues that such a regime requires or projects a “biographical connection” (2007: 4) between text and author so that even postcolonial fiction can be thought of as offering a supposedly authentic or unmediated access to the cultural other. This article discusses Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart: Reading My Father (2004), in which the British Asian author narrativizes his ambivalent relationship with his father and retraces the latter’s trajectory from India to the UK of the 1960s and 1970s. My aim is to show how this memoir is very much concerned with the relationship between postcolonialism and postcoloniality even as it foregrounds issues of genre, authorship, and (af)filiation. Highlighting the ambiguities and impossibilities inherent in any referential pact (see Lejeune, 1975), My Ear at His Heart not only complicates the demand for “biographical authenticity” that is seen by Brouillette to condition the niche marketing of postcolonial literatures, the memoir also alludes to the reception of Kureishi’s own work, which was framed by “autobiographical” readings of his early novels. Through an analysis of the ways in which My Ear at His Heart re-places issues of postcoloniality and genre at the heart of the father–son relationship, I wish to suggest that Kureishi still has “something to tell us” about the commodification of “minority” cultures, provided that postcolonial scholarship starts taking issues of form seriously.},
  author       = {Munos, Delphine},
  issn         = {0021-9894},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE},
  keywords     = {Literature and Literary Theory,Father-son relationship,Hanif Kureishi,memoir,postcolonial biography,postcoloniality and postcolonialism},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {376--390},
  title        = {'Tell it slant' : postcoloniality and the fiction of biographical authenticity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart : Reading My Father},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0021989418824372},
  volume       = {55},
  year         = {2020},
}

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