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"Black holes in the fabric of the nation": Refugees in Mohsin Hamid’s "Exit West".

Perfect, MJ (2019) "Black holes in the fabric of the nation": Refugees in Mohsin Hamid’s "Exit West". Journal for Cultural Research. ISSN 1479-7585

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Abstract

This article explores the representation of refugees in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017), a novel which marks an early and particularly prominent literary response to the ‘international refugee crisis’. In a distinct echo of Salman Rushdie’s claim, a quarter of a century ago, that it ‘may be argued that the past is a country from which we have all emigrated’, Hamid’s novel similarly claims that ‘we are all migrants through time.’ Moreover, like Rushdie’s fiction, Hamid’s novel incorporates elements of magical realism and fable. Its protagonists, Nadia and Saeed, escape their unnamed war-torn city through a ‘door’ that instantaneously transports them to Mykonos; they subsequently travel through other such ‘doors’ to London and San Francisco. Their story is interspersed with a series of vignettes in which other refugees also find themselves magically transported to ‘first-world’ nations. As well as considering the ways in which Hamid’s novel seeks to humanize refugees, this article considers the novel’s evocation of a world in which human beings have – like capital, images, and (mis)information – gained access to largely ungovernable networks of instantaneous travel across vast distances. It argues that Hamid’s novel is not just ‘about’ refugees but also constitutes a reflection on how they, and their journeys, are represented and mediated by actually-existing technologies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal for Cultural Research on 24/09/2019, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14797585.2019.1665896
Uncontrolled Keywords: Refugees; Hamid, Mohsin; Contemporary Literature; Postcolonial Literature; Exit West
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2019 09:06
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 09:15
DOI or Identification number: 10.1080/14797585.2019.1665896
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11411

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