Anton Chekhov by Harold Bloom

By Harold Bloom

Bloom's smooth severe perspectives

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This totalizing account of structural tropes of generic experiences raises the question of whether the category of diasporic identity is valid at all, or, if so, whether we are not all diasporic subjects, endlessly moving from one context to another and reshaping our identities in the process. What all the writers studied in these pages have in common is their transcription of the diasporic subject’s essential ‘in-betweenness’, an indeterminate intermediateness between homeland and new home, past and present, old self and new, dreams shattered or yet to come true.

We have to beg, say the beggars, the accursed belly demands food: it is the fault of the belly, not just the unjust world that does not allow enough sustenance to reach the bellies of everyone through dignified means. (p. 236) While this applies most directly to religion in Aslam’s work, both in the homeland and the diaspora, it also raises a number of other issues for Western societies. Most centrally it addresses the question of responsibility, whether at the level of the West as a power bloc or of mainstream society within individual Western countries.

For example, Kaukab is afraid to use the phone after she is racially abused for dialling a wrong number. Local children confront racist abuse on a daily basis and even their play is undermined by racialized behaviour. For example, they discover a human heart by the lake only to learn that it has been stolen from the hospital by a young white man who does not want his mother’s heart ‘transplanted into a black man’s body’ (p. 153), suggesting the deeply felt barriers to interracial and inter-ethnic love around which the narratives are woven.

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