Home » Interpolating South Asian transnational heritage: Allegory in South Asian diasporic metropolitan in young adult fiction

Interpolating South Asian transnational heritage: Allegory in South Asian diasporic metropolitan in young adult fiction

Vol. 12, No. 1 (2016), 41-60


Young adult books written by western metropolitan authors clearly cater to a western audience: the protagonists, settings and the archetypes of these texts are Eurocentric. Eurocentric concepts and experiences are often assumed to be universal. This could result in the othering of the non-white imaginary within young adult fiction. However, multicultural young adult texts are increasingly available on the global market. This paper investigates a selection of young adult fiction written by authors of the South Asian diaspora to determine whether the use of allegory in the form of cultural myths and folklore drawn from an ancestral cultural repertoire allows these texts to insert themselves into and dismantle the hegemony of metropolitan Eurocentricism in the consciousness of the diasporic South Asian reader. To explore this possibility, the following works of South Asian diasporic metropolitan young adult fiction are analysed: Dahling If You Luv Me Please Please Smile (1999) by Rukhsana Khan; Bindi Babes by Narindher Dhami (2005); and Blue Boy (2009) by Rakesh Satyal. This study focuses on the ways in which the authors of these texts interpolate a South Asian transnational heritage into the setting of the metropolitan public school, especially through the allegorical mode. The ultimate aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the incorporation of South Asian cultural myths and folklore into settings familiar to young adult readers can contribute to generating awareness of the cultural heritage of diasporic youth.

Author’s bio

Manohari Rasagam is a Malaysian residing in Virginia, USA. She is a PhD candidate with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and has recently submitted her thesis on “Interpolating Transnational Heritage: The Role of Young Adult Literature and the South Asian Diaspora,” for examination. She holds a bachelors degree in English from Universiti Malaya (UM), Masters of Art in Post-Colonial Literature from UKM, Certificate in Human Resources Management from Malaysian Institute of Human Resources Management (MIHRM), Diploma in Language from the University of Lisbon, Portugal and is also English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) certified by the International Language Institute in Washington DC. She has been an adjunct faculty member at several colleges and a public university in Malaysia for well over 15 years.

Shanthini Pillai (PhD) is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia (UKM). Her research interests are anchored primarily in ethnic diversity, diaspora and transnationalism in literary and cultural texts with particular reference to the global South Asian diaspora. An emergent interest is in the cultural consciousness of  Catholic diasporic Indians in Malaysia. She is author of Colonial Visions, Postcolonial Revisions: Images of the Indian Diaspora of Malaysia (2007) as well as numerous articles in various journals of Literary and Cultural Studies. She is also a recipient of the 2006-2007 Australia-Malaysia Institute Fellowship, as well as the 2013 Asia Research Institute Visiting Senior Fellowship.


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