Doing history right

Challenging masculinist postcolonialism in Pakistani anglophone literature

Authored by: Fawzia Afzal-Khan

The Routledge Companion to Pakistani Anglophone Writing

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138745520
eBook ISBN: 9781315180618
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter assesses the work of three major and emerging contemporary Pakistani/Pakistani-American male writers – Mohsin Hamid, Ayad Akhtar, and Ali Eteraz – in light of a feminist reading of Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History. The purpose of such a reading is to argue against a masculinist ‘erotic’ approach to History, which has led to various dead ends in the work of the writers under discussion, and in favour of a more mature, materialist conception of history that could lead to a more hopeful (feminist) futurity, upon which the fate of our shared world depends. While the works of Eteraz and Akhtar discussed here appear stuck in the masculinist mode of erotic history (despite much in this oeuvre that is important and interesting), it is Hamid’s latest novel, Exit West, which holds out the promise for the kind of materialist conception of history Benjamin favoured as a progressive way forward.

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