Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  56 / 152 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 56 / 152 Next Page
Page Background






relations of power” (Keith & Pile, 1993: 38). Although often read

as a suburban Asian London novel, it can be argued that, through

the invention of a white teenager as the narrator of the story,


poses a challenge to such “hegemonic constructions of

place, of politics and of identity” (1993: 38). Although Jas is a

white Briton, locally born and raised in Hounslow, he loves desi

culture to such an extent that he prefers the desi name “Jas” to his

first name “Jason” (Malkani, 2006a: 24) and continues working on

his Punjabi though he proudly claims, “I reckon I already know

more than most coconuts do” (2006a: 67). When Jas chooses to

become a desi, and passes so successfully that he makes the reader

believe it until the surprising revelation at the end of the novel, he

deconstructs the authenticity of desi identity in light of the

inherited traditions of Indian or South Asian diaspora. In

opposition to the policies of multiculturalism built upon race and

ethnicity, he exemplifies the important role that freedom plays in a

truly multicultural society in which, as Amartya Sen argues in

Identity and Violence

, cultural practices are not “imposed in the

name of ‘the culture of the community,’” but rather “freely chosen

by persons with adequate opportunity to learn and reason about

alternatives” (2006: 152). Similar examples in the novel are

“coconuts,” also called “gora lovers” or “gorafied desis,” who, as

Jas has observed, “made a choice just like I made a choice when I

started kickin bout with Hardjit” (Malkani, 2006a: 22-23). On the

other hand, as the mediator, or the transgressor, between the white

British culture and the South Asian culture, the in-between

positionality of Jas as well as the “coconuts” in the novel showcases

the multiplicity of Hounslow, which cannot be reduced to either

purely white or brown. In other words, Hounslow provides and

represents an in-between and dynamic space, not only for South

Asian immigrants, but also for white British people to reshape their

identities and to resist the dominance of any hegemonic power of