Monday, March 12, 2007

Kiran Desai

I just cannot deny thoughts of A New World Order when my thoughts go to Kiran Desai.

Anyone who thinks that she's just another lucky Indian writer who nailed another Booker because she can fool us with mango or midnight or moon or some evocation of the mysterious other, is in for a surprise. Perhaps the fashion world discovered it first, several years ago, when mixed blood models became the heighth of chic. But Desai is truly third culture, truly the burgeoning future of our little planet.

Desai did not answer questions, either from a moderator or from the audience. She read to us from a paper in which she clearly questioned 'blunt notions of east and west', the idea that colonizer and colonized are somehow diametrically opposed, singular loyalties, and even, horrors, the 'concept of home.'

I could not help but feel that she is tired of the label, the trap, the category, the border, the boundary. Here she was, at Hong Kong U, an academic institution no better or worse than a thousand others, all of which are entrenched in the increasingly unworkable act of labeling, filtering, and simply not seeing what IS.

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