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Title:Strategic nostalgia, Islam and cultural translation in Leila Aboulela's 'The translator' and 'Coloured lights'
Author:Steiner, Tina
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Geographic terms:Sudan
Great Britain
About person:Leila Aboulela (1964-)ISNI
Abstract:Egyptian-Sudanese author Leila Aboulela has written a collection of short stories, 'Coloured Lights' (2001), and two novels, 'The Translator' (1999) and 'Minaret' (2005), which engage with the subtleties of Muslim African immigrant experience in Britain. This article draws on the first two texts to present an inquiry into the role of religion, more specifically Islam, in literary migrant identity politics. The author argues that Aboulela critiques Orientalist and Islamist discourses in her fiction through strategic nostalgia, where past memory becomes a lens through which her characters read their new environment in Britain. However, her fiction also attests to the limitations of such nostalgia and instead turns to religion as a site of translocal identity formation, which offers her characters the possibility of resisting the hegemonic pressures of assimilating into a secular present in Britain or of romanticising a particular past in the Sudan. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]