Comparing the Black Album and Rushdie's The Satanic Verses

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The Black Album and Rushdie's The Satanic Verses

British writer C.C. Colton once claimed, "Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but--live for it" (Copeland 345). Indeed, if nothing else, Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album shows the depths to which people concern themselves with questions of religion, ethnicity, and the identity associated with them. Kureishi's themes and symbolism work within a larger context of the politics of identity, race, and nationality. Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and the larger religious question associated with it, serve to polarize the British community between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as to polarize people supporting liberation and those supporting containment. Combined with other cultural references, Kureishi uses the literary allusion to create his themes and symbolism.

The question of the racial, religious, and socioeconomic identity of Shahid becomes a central question posed as Shahid undergoes translation from his Pakistani ancestry to his desired identity as a Briton. Shahid's translation parallels the translations of the former Asian colonies of Britain into their new postcolonial identities. Unfortunately for Shahid, the struggle over The Satanic Verses catches him as he is translating himself, presenting him with a series of tough choices.

The quest for identity in Indo-English writing has emerged as a recurrent theme, as it is in much of modern literature (Pathak preface). Indeed, often the individual's identity and his quest for it becomes so bound up in the national quest for identity, that the individual's search for his identity becomes allegorical of the national search (Pathak pr...

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