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the UK terror plot in the summer of 2006.


Having set the novel

around the neighborhood of Hounslow, Malkani delineates the

lives of a gang of Indian British teenage boys headed by

body-builder Hardjit. Just as Huq has pointed out, “Whereas

Karim is a rarity in Kureishi’s historical account of 1960s/70s

Bromley, in


’s twenty-first century Hounslow, Asians

are the norm” (2012: 9). These youths call themselves “rudeboys,”

a slang which, in contemporary Britain, refers to the youths who

are involved in street culture like “gangsta” or to “tough,

style-conscious male” (Malkani, 2006a:

340), although the term is

originally from Jamaica and was used in the 1960s for juvenile

delinquents and criminals. In the first thirteen pages of the novel,

these rudeboys beat a white boy, whom they claim called them

“Paki.” While retaking their A-levels, the rudeboys often skip

classes to hang out on the street and find trouble with


white males

and with “coconuts”

South Asian

immigrants who have assimilated into white British society and


For more information, see Hounslow Council (2007). It is the report of a study

commissioned by the Hounslow Council “to consider the underlying causes of

youth disengagement from mainstream society and the significance of any

tendency to support extremist views and turn to extremist organisations” (5). The

report is available online at

extremism.pdf. Although it is true that extremist groups operate in Hounslow, the

issue is, as the report makes clear, “not unique to Hounslow,” but “a reality for

many cities throughout Europe” (3). Most importantly, the report cautions people

not to link “the discussion of ‘community cohesion’” with “tackling violent

extremism and counter-terrorism,” for “[s]uch an approach will do even more to

marginalise certain groups in our communities and increase the resentment about

apparently unequal treatment” (6-7). Even if the official report attempts to strike

a note of caution in the beginning, it continues to point out how problematic

“clustering” is, namely “people choosing to live with or near those of similar

backgrounds,” when clustering “creates or gives rise to ignorance, fear, and

hostility towards ‘others’” (6). As I will elaborate later in the article, it is against

such fear of clustering and hostility towards others that


can be read

as an attempt to redirect the reader’s attention from the problems of clustering to

the diversity that people can often find in an ethnic enclave and to the vitality that

ethnic minority groups can bring to the city.