Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  275 / 138 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 275 / 138 Next Page
Page Background

Engaging Politically from the Margin 275

“quite deliberately use[d] the phrase ‘War on Terror,’” for “to talk

about a ‘War on Terror’ novel is to really talk about the consequences

of the decisions made by various governments (including those of the

US and Pakistan), rather than to place the terrorists of 9/11 at the

centre of the narrative.” The War on Terror, which the American

government called for in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to protect

democracy and liberty, has inflicted suffering on many Muslims in the

United States, especially after the Patriot Act was signed and enacted.


In the novel, in the wake of 9/11, Kim becomes more patriotic and

paranoid than before, and yet, when Raza tells Kim that the Patriot Act

permits the FBI to “indefinitely detain someone with just minor visa

violations if they have even the vaguest suspicions about them”

(Shamsie, 2009a: 305), Kim appears to have known nothing about it.

Kim’s ignorance reflects some extremely patriotic Americans’ blind

support of their government’s actions without knowing or caring about

the outcomes.

Despite being called the Patriot Act, such a homeland security

policy seems to reflect a sentiment less related to patriotism than to

ethnocentrism and aggressive nationalism which, while including white

Americans, excludes immigrants in the rebuilding of the nation. This is

the other side of immigrant story that remains mostly untold in

Shamsie’s Karachi novels, in which migrant characters appear, to some

extent, to be unaffected by, or unconcerned with, the politics of their

host country while constantly feeling nostalgia for the homeland.



USA Patriot Act stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing

Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.


In fact, Shamsie’s fourth novel,

Broken Verses


briefly touches upon Americans’

anti-Muslim xenophobia after 9/11. In the novel, the male protagonist Ed returns

from New York to Pakistan because of the immediate consequences of the 9/11

events, such as “[t]he INS[,] Guantanamo Bay[,] [t]he unrandom random security

check in airports[,] [t]he visit from the FBI” (Shamsie, 2005: 45-46). Most

importantly, as he says with “anger on his face”: “‘I was laid off because I’m

Muslim’” (46). These, however, are the only parts about 9/11 and its impact on the

immigrants. The main focus of the novel is still on the Pakistani society that Ed

returns to.