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Urban Space and Terroristic Simmerings: The City Remapped in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Uzma

Aslam Khan’s Trespassing Saba Pirzadeh, Purdue University Through its repeated material and psychological incursion into ordinary mundane lives, violence is emerging as a hegemonic narrative, capable of dictating and modifying lived spaces, and inhabitants’ associational relationships with these spaces. Extending this concept, this paper will argue that the penetration and permeation of violence in South Asian spaces undermines and ruptures their national identity, and instead reduces them to spaces of imminent threat and danger. Using Pakistani texts such as Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Uzma Aslam Khan’s Trespassing, the paper will explore the material and atmospheric experience of violence in Lahore and Karachi, to suggest that violence is becoming an encompassing feature of city life, thereby dominating the personal encounters between the city’s inhabitants and redefining the nationalist signification(s) of these metropolises. The Reluctant Fundamentalist epitomizes the multiple ways in which the territorial and cultural markers of Lahore become redefined as signifiers of imminent violence. All interactions with the sights and sounds of an unfamiliar city (Lahore) simmers with terroristic potentiality: exotic food, bodily scars, startling sounds, unexpected blackouts, intimidating looking locals, bearded men, inquisitive strangers– everything becomes threatening and menacing. Trespassing represents how Karachi undergoes a similar re-framing, whereby the violence of regional and political wars, not only brings about material devastation but ideological transformation within the city. The metropolitan fantasy of endless mobility and consistent advancement now becomes marked and maimed by violence, thereby endangering the perambulations of certain communities and reclaiming Karachi as a zone of imminent terror. Building upon these arguments, this paper will argue that the totalizing narrative of violence has radically remapped these cities, by displacing their nationalist signification(s) and recapturing their complexity into a reductive articulation of danger, in order to sustain stereotypical representations of Pakistan, within the monolithic narrative of violence.

Islamism, Neo-liberalism and Terror: Fixing Fixity in Tabish Khair’s How to Fight Islamist Terror from a Missionary Position Afrin Zeenat, University of Arkansas In addition to being a very catchy title, Tabish Khair’s How to Fight Islamist Terror from a Missionary Position teases and titillates readers like any postmodern literary text. The narrative, too, contains all the trappings of a postmodern text. Taking advantage of the abundance of writing on Muslims and terror, Khair uses the popular trope to simultaneously reinforce and subvert the many assumptions readers may have

‖ ―civilized‖ and ―barbaric‖ and of course. Hamid’s novel charts the metamorphosis of its protagonist from general indifference to severe political predicament after the September 11 attacks. irreverent look at Islamism and the so-called war against terror.about Muslims and terror. He concluded his essay with a Spivak-ian rumination — can the moderate Muslim really express herself at all now? Khair’s categorical emphasis on identifying himself as one of the moderate Muslims can be placed within the larger context of the polarized mediated experiences in the post 9/11 world. it focuses on educating readers against suspecting every Muslim to be a terrorist at the same time critiquing the growing Islamization or Islamism among Muslims. Both novels explicate different alternatives within the fold of . it attempts to dispel stereotypes of the certain kinds of Muslims who participate in the terror plots. According to Khair’s own confession. on the other hand. thereby further unsettling readers and calling attention to the Neo-liberal suspicion of Muslims. explores the readers’ preconceptions through a retrospective narration. Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and Tabish Khair’s How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position (2012) are two such attempts. ―liberal‖ and ―fanatic. Amherst In the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.‖ The media in the US and elsewhere has only been too willing to reinforce these categories. Khair’s novel neither dismisses Islamist terror nor attempts to understand the factors that make a terrorist. leaving little or no space in between for a more balanced opinion. it ―wages a war against fixed definitions‖• of what constitutes a Muslim experience in these times fraught with suspicion. in which he lamented the diminishing space for moderate Muslim opinion in mainstream media. How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position ―…tak es a snide. Although Tabish Khair’s How to Fight Islamist Terror from a Missionary Position is a literary pastiche of the different types of Islamist discourse that got produced and gained readership in the post 9/11 era. as the palpable proponent of Islamist terrorism. Khair borrows real events occurring in post-9/11 Denmark and weaves it into a fictional rendering of a terror plot that condemns and stymies any instant identification of devout Muslims. rather. replete with beard and skull-cap. The Inbetweeners: The Construction of Moderate Muslim Identities in the Works of Tabish Khair and Mohsin Hamid Maryam Fatima. there have been a few attempts at problematizing these fixed boundaries. however.‖• Hence. In the literary world. University of Massachusetts. Khair’s novel. The construction and perpetuation of a culture of war in the US produced and reinforced the dichotomies of ―us‖ and ―them. Khair’s novel seems to be playfully mocking both the growing religiosity of the so called Islamists and the abundance of writing on Muslims. Tabish Khair wrote an article ―We Have Lost Our Voice‖ for The Guardian.

and have been modeled on.‖• Like the call center. is a critical foil for the subject in diaspora. where acts disappear without consequences in neutral. Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008). at the beginning of the 1980s. and motivating the reverse migrations of middle and uppermiddle class Indians in diaspora. They both announce and critique India’s arrival on the putative world stage. and diasporic literature. a simulacrum. nation and gender. It will look at these protagonists in their embodiment of this identity and analyze it from the perspective of class. and economic sign of the new India in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.‖• Call Center Literature (CCL) is offered as a provocation in relation to the dominant categories of world. Cancelling out difference. University of California. This paper will explore these two texts in their construction of this moderate identity. performing her movement out of the ―waiting room of history‖• which was the frustrated backdrop of the post-colonial.moderation. including ―World Bank Literature. and it is considered in relation to earlier renominations of those categories. upon which politics is based. and Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013) as exemplary species of Call Center Literature. focusing on how each of these novels utilizes the themes and techniques of the self-help book. 9/11 as a Hollywood Fantasy Bülent Diken & Carsten Bagge Laustsen I "Why does the World Trade Center have two towers?" asked Jean Baudrillard (1988: 143) years ago. The concept of ―moderation‖ itself will be interrogated for its elisions and compromises. I propose a critical analogy between call center tech support and literary self help. thus demonstrating the irrelevance of difference and antagonism in a postmodern world. I offer readings of Chetan Bhagat’s One Night @ the Call Center (2005). in turn. indifferent images (Baudrillard 1994: . The twin towers of the WTC were perfectly parallel surfaces which merely mirrored one another. who. which emerged as the primary spatial.Berkeley This paper argues that there is a genre of Indian English novels that may be productively understood as ―Call Center Literature. Is There a Call Center Literature? Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan. the figure of the call center agent. social. post-colonial. the WTC had constituted a symbol of postpolitics: an obscene political system in which political opposition or "dialectical polarity" no longer exists. arguing that novelistic depictions of the entrepreneurial subjects of the new global India are indebted to. the novels of CCL serve to destabilize and complicate nationhood by producing an ambivalent image of Indian globality.

sex disappears. when everything is social. for instance. on the other hand. the political is foreclosed in post-politics. in the possibility of politics. by the indefinite mutation of social domains (Baudrillard 1990: 7. which provokes an unbearable drift towards the "real reality". a different world. social change tends to lose its historical dimension. what he saw could be summarized in one word: transparency. Because this society is a simulacrum. is the belief in the possibility of making a difference. Without the image of a VIRTUAL world. surfaces as the only available form of violence in post-political society (Baudrillard 1993: 76). the WTC was a symbol of destruction: the destruction of politics. that is. the optimist is the person who thinks that the actually existing world is the best world. politics disappear. Significantly. a world of possibilities or potentialities. the WTC was a symbol of a "one-dimensional society" in which critique has disappeared and people can no longer imagine that another society. Politics is the ability to debate. you can freely choose to be an optimist or a pessimist. In short. however. the ability to radically criticise a given order and to fight for a new and better one. or disappearance. artificial universe. Terror. the actual world becomes the only world. And of course. transparency is the answer to the rhetorical question about why the World Trade Center had two towers. and the real implodes into simulation. apolitical violence. its "hysteria" is the production of the real (Baudrillard 1994: 23). No wonder terrorism demolished the WTC. To borrow Marcuse's concept. Moreover. When Baudrillard looked at the WTC years ago. 32). Transparency is a flattening process characterized by the disappearance of differences. the pessimist is the person who thinks that the optimist might be right.16. information ceases to be an event. a product not of antagonism but of "listless and indifferent forces". in such a one-dimensional world. Politics necessitates accepting conflict. What is precluded in the horizons of both the optimist and the pessimist. In other words: long before it was destroyed. is possible. the social disappears. We live in an immaterial. however. by the reality TV show Big . This hysteria is exemplified. cannot accept conflict. this one-dimensional world is not a peaceful world: the foreclosure of the political merely provokes naked. and so on. question and renew the fundament on which political struggle unfolds. After all. Post-politics. 50). In such a society. When everything becomes political. when everything becomes sexual.

sublime event. becomes. ad-ventures to the extreme and the extraordinary. II An example of this is the movie Fight Club. and violence.Brother with its tragicomic reversal of panopticism. The "real" is a simulacrum of fantasy. the disenchantment with life becomes an object of perverse desire. identity and relation. Fight Club stands as a testimony to a society in which everyday life is banal and the repetitive is death. and exploding the American paranoiac fantasy of suburban security. In this world. the image of violence without the real event . transforming the WTC into the symptom of contemporary network society and paralleling the manner in which the Titanic became the symptom of industrial society (Zizek 2002: 15-16). Jack. Hence the uncanny irritation caused by Stockhausen's infamous depiction of the attack as "the greatest work of art imaginable". is the very source of anxiety in contemporary society. returns in the real. and is only "authentic" in so far as it mirrors the composition of a fantastic Hollywood film. Transparency. It is as if on September the 11th the Hollywood fantasy of violence . experiences . which is framed by the fantasy of undoing the social. Violence emerges in this context as a traumatic intervention of the "real" in this trans-parent un-reality. is a mobile individual: he has a career. this fantasy is realised. from the prospect of not being seen (Zizek 2001b: 249-51). "romantic" scene the protagonists walk hand in hand.they live in what Walter Benjamin called a "dream world": a post-political world that lays claim to eternity. experience is divorced from place and purpose. the contemporary Big Brother stands for a world in which "anxiety emerges not from being seen but from being forgotten. or disappearance. while behind them an orgy of devastation is performed as buildings explode and collapse. Violence. experience is only real when it reaches out. In Fight Club. and fully participates in consumerism. or terror. destroying consumerism. risking life in the high speed collision. but never have. trans-appearance. He is . Fight Club's protagonist. In the final.coincided with its exact opposite: the unimaginable. And of course this was perfectly visible even before 9/11: the fantasy of a violent reaction to social "unreality" has been a regular theme in Hollywood movies. When the social disappears. once more.that is. an imaginary reaction to post-politics. travels in the space of flows. In contrast to Orwell's Big Brother. Subjects undergo. With the collapse of the World Trade Center. at least at the level of fantasy. or the event without an image. invested in the hope that the real will return when the veil of simulacrum is lifted from everyday existence.

We are tempted to . Tyler thus materializes Jack's own fantasy.fantasies. Along the same lines. The shock caused by 9/11 did not really originate from the attack itself but from the fact that what was fantasised became real. that Tyler is a product of his fantasy. Tyler Durden. When Tyler asks Jack to hit him as hard as possible. yet his attitude towards his environment is blasé. With the attack. In the same way that Tyler is Jack's spectral double. omnipresent but nevertheless with no clear territorial base. there seems to be a mimetic relation between the contemporary politics of security as a form of (political) fundamentalism and the religious fundamentalism that it seeks to fight. with 9/11 was found "tasteless" by most critics. in an interview he gave in the US last year. everything changes. But Ali G was right: the 'international terrorist organizations' are the obscene double of the big multinational corporations . Why? Because 9/11 is a sacralized event. share the logic of networking. As a spectator of his own life. his deliberate confusion of 7-Eleven. It said. Of course. when he meets his doubleganger.This fantasy generated by Fight Club. and other Hollywood movies. his alter-ego. Globalisation and terrorism. Fighting becomes an addiction. terror materializes our own Hollywood .the ultimate global destruction machine. including self-destruction" (Palahniuk 1997: 49). The most powerful twist in the film is when it becomes obvious that Jack is in fact schizophrenic. Indeed. dialogue and humor in a way reminiscent of the Holocaust. was realized with the attacks on the WTC. elevated to a level above politics. "the answer is not improvement but destruction. They are exhilarated by violence and through fighting they discover the corporeality of their existence. However. Thus the British comedian Ali G was at his best when he said. The "network society" and "terror networks" mirror each other in a mobile network space. What is astonishing is that the attack was in a certain sense expected. terror is globalization fighting with itself. the American paranoiac fantasy of violence returned in the real. One should think like Ali G and deliberately confuse the conjugated categories of 7-Eleven and 9/11. Jack hits him and Tyler returns the favour. 7-Eleven and 9/11. the global convenience store chain. that he crossed the Atlantic "to help the US with some of the problems following 7/11" (Bowcott 2003). Fight Club wanted to "go back to zero". Similarly.constantly on the move. "one would think that Ali G was the Salman Rushdie of TV pranksters". he paradoxically lives in inertia in the midst of a mobile network society. Tyler Durden is the embodiment of a colourful and dynamic contrast to Jack himself. anticipated and visualised in Hollywood blockbusters (Zizek 2002: 16-7). its own spectral double.

The time to attack comes. David develops a virus that can penetrate the protective shield of the space ships. III Now.say that terror is a continuation of American movies with other means. They are prepared to annihilate the human race to realise their aim. but also the terrorism "in us all. the earth is attacked by hostile powers from outer space. the alien ship turns out to be indestructible. the aliens can also be attacked with conventional weapons. The film seems to have anticipated the American reaction to September the 11th.of course triggers the redeeming idea: virus. However. David's father-in-law happens to warn him against catching a cold when he sees him sitting on the floor. Evil alien powers attack the house of God and their actions are totally unexplainable. exercised by the terrorist model" (Baudrillard 1993: 76). of mass appeal. if their protective shield can be destroyed. the president accepts the plan and contacts the other nations. that is. protected by an electro-magnetic shield. The gigantic spaceship approaching the earth is an evil empire inhabited by aliens who move from planet to planet and exploit their resources. it seems that with terror the enemy is also our own fantasy. The attack is initiated in a series of big cities. David. The film never attributes a depth to the aliens in the . which is perhaps the film on 9/11. All of this had. It turns out that the bunker contains an outer space research centre. To be sure. in our heads and in our everyday behaviour". It turns out to be a timer mechanism.Independence Day. and which is able to produce a "war president" even out of George Bush. And of course it was made before 9/11. which contains an unidentified flying object that had crashed in an American desert. This . In the film. The residents of the White House are evacuated to an underground military bunker. naturally. we would like to focus on another film. Having no choice. we are not speaking of the terrorism of Bin Laden. to clarify our points. been top secret before the arrival of the aliens. which without hesitation "unite" against the enemy. once more. who discovers a strange signal emanating from the space ship. which is able to mobilize the masses so effectively. and the American army fast and resolutely counter-attacks the space ship. So. The rescuer is a scientist. If this idea works. Meanwhile. and Washington is the target. It is too easy to be anti-terrorist on the level of the so-called "war against terror" and not even see the terrorist inside ourselves! As Baudrillard recently put it: "what no police could ever guard against is the sort of fascination. The plan is to contaminate the aliens' network with the virus.

mimic and justify each other. and India did so against Pakistan? Slavoj Zizek mentions one of Bush's speeches where he refers to a letter written by a seven-year-old girl whose father was a fighter pilot in Afghanistan. motives or emotions. transforming his plane into a missile and himself into a suicide attacker. We need not think too long to realize that the scene would be received as an expression of fundamentalism or a morbid form of propaganda. We have two networks that confront. As the sublime incarnation of humanity. What if the 9/11 pilots conceived of their acts as such a heroic gesture whose aim was to destroy the empire of evil? Indeed. it is perfectly possible to say that Independence Day condenses the selfconception of the terrorists. they are invincible: their networked weaponry is infinitely superior to what is available on earth. We have two camps. A mental experiment might be helpful in this context: What if we universalise the right the US claims for itself? What if Israel claimed the same right against the Palestinians. ability. Terror and its adversary mirror each other. What if we saw the hostile space ship as a metaphor for a global American empire suffocating the local life forms with consumerism and indifference? Is it such a clean-cut matter to decide what Good and Evil consist of? In the above description. reifying. Then its pilot chooses to lead the fighter against the target. we deliberately excluded an element of the plot. and the fundamentalist rhetoric of the extermination of evil is what unites the two poles in spite of asymmetries. which dissolves the democratic habitus in a post-political condition. Good and Evil. And we have two strategies. she is ready to sacrifice him for his fatherland. In the letter she says that even though she loves her father. Such a reading. Towards the end of the film every American fighter gets shot down. The only choice is the choice between us and them. Thus Bin Laden's construction of "Americans" perfectly mirrors Bush's representation of Al-Qaeda. Yes. But what about "us" . except one. Further. the US gathers a worldencompassing alliance for the war against the enemy.form of insight. The question is how we would react if we saw an Arabic Muslim girl on TV claiming in front of the camera that she will sacrifice her father in the war against America. there emerges an intense battle between American fighter planes and the aliens. It is much more interesting to play with the basic assumption of the film: that it is narrated from an American perspective. is slightly boring and. each of which claims to be good and to fight evil. what is worse. it turns out that the missiles cannot be detonated. When the last fighter is to fire its missiles. After the protective shield of the alien ship is penetrated. Muslim fundamentalists even exploit their own children without hesitation (Zizek 2002: 43). however.aren't we even better at .

J. Jews. The ultimate catastrophe is the simple and simplifying distinction between good and evil. Terror and the war against it say something fundamental about our society. Terror. homosexuals. Selected Writings. is the continuation of post-politics with other means (Baudrillard 2002: 34). the right to vote. Bowcott. Baudrillard. then. then. The Transparency of Evil. (2003). women's rights. (1988). Simulacra and Simulation. Baudrillard. London: Verso. London: Verso. sense: independent thinking. "Massive flop.that? The point of such a dialectic reversal is not to make excuses for terrorism. pushing aside every sociological explanation that refers to social conditions as indirectly supporting terrorism. J. could refer to independence in the classical. we must criticise them mercilessly. (2002). Rather than undermining democracy in the war against terrorism. dance. we must support it. "Independence". But terrorism is basically a mirror for understanding the contemporary post-political condition. a rhetoric that basically copies terrorist rhetoric and makes it impossible to think independently. O. (1994). and rather than refraining from criticising Bush and Blair's international policies in the name of patriotism. and so on (Rushdie 2001). Paris: Semiotext(e)/Pluto. also important to insist that the Western tradition is a tradition of democracy and criticism. The . Baudrillard. Of course. (1993). Ali G fails to win respect in the US". Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. fundamentalists seek more than to demolish skyscrapers: they are the enemies of freedom of expression. Fatal Strategies. democracy. J (1990). The Spirit of Terrorism. Baudrillard. however. It is in this sense that the dominant paranoid perspective transforms the terrorists into abstract and irrational agents. J. secularism. J. The question is this: Are we to be content with a society in which the only radical acts are terrorist acts? Clausewitz wrote that war is the continuation of politics with other means. References: Baudrillard. It is. Kantian. London: Polity.

England is now asking itself the question 'Why do people born and bred in England turn to fundamentalism.Terrorism and Film The Empty Accountancy of Things Reasons for Fundamentalism in Hanif Kureishi's and Udayan Prasad's My Son the Fanatic Trine Vinter Mortensen The recent London bombings have made the 1997 film My Son the Fanatic[1] of current interest again.Guardian. Slavoj (2002).O. Slavoj (2001).V. working long hours to make ends meet. London: Vintage. Zizek. A few years later he wrote the short story My Son the Fanatic.20 . (1997). Parvez's son Farid is getting engaged to Chief Inspector Fingerhut's daughter and Parvez is thrilled. and against the society they were raised in?'. Palahniuk. has been preoccupied with this question for a while. Rushdie. but his father Parvez. [3] which he expanded and developed into a film script under the same title. He is very eager to please Fingerhut and behaves in a . London: Verso. 4/10. the conflict between father and son is used as a backdrop for the story of Parvez's personal development. No. who has an English mother and a Pakistani father and is born and bred in England. to the top of the page P. [2] which was inspired by the fatwah issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989. Parvez is a Pakistani taxi driver who came to England to feed his family. Immigration and Assimilation The central character in the film is not the son referred to in the title. In the film. London: Routledge. Welcome to the Desert of the Real. but I will focus on the conflict between father and son. and in Britain he lives at the bottom of society. but written by Hanif Kureishi. "Den skjulte krig kan ikke vindes". Zizek. Fight Club. On Belief. C.Information. Colonialism. Kureishi. This question is exactly what is central in the film that is directed by Udayan Prasad. Salman (2001). 24 February. He first explored these issues in the novel The Black Album. since this means that he will finally be able to climb up the social ladder.

and Mr. Schitz to the extent that he agrees to supply him with prostitutes for his business party. Though Parvez inhabits the lower spheres of society. since they are frequently attacked. regards Parvez and his family with contempt. This compound Muslim and Western identity is also expressed visually when he sips whisky wearing salwar kurta.submissive and inferior manner. racism. Both Parvez and Mr. but Bettina wryly informs him that "they were sitting at the next table". In general. representing the Western world that he lives in now. These virtues are not in keeping with his Pakistani self and therefore he has created a hide-out in the cellar where he drinks and listens to music . And then. but he feels at home in Bradford where he lives. But the incident where he kicks Parvez in the bottom and laughs at him clearly shows a lack of fundamental respect. and though he is racially abused. being made to feel inferior in your own country. Schitz himself. and the diegetic music is jazz. racially abused by the comedian. This superior/ inferior relationship is replayed. does not feel that he is being exploited. he enjoys a drink and he loves jazz. Schitz exploits and uses others for his own pleasure. in Britain. Schitz from the airport and takes him on a guided tour of the city. when the German businessman Mr. Parvez offers him his services while he is in town. Fingerhut. though. Schitz and the prostitute Bettina in a comedy club he is.a sort of haven for his assimilated self. Mr. Mr. people includes colonialism . When he talks about the city he talks about "our glory" .being made to feel inferior in your own country. though he is regarded with contempt and disrespect. The non-diegetic music is rooted in the East and represents his origins and his community. The soundtrack to the film highlights Parvez's two identities.. Parvez. both verbally and physically. He has left many old habits and beliefs behind him in order to become assimilated to the British society. Schitz calls Parvez 'little man' and Parvez behaves like a delivery boy eager to please. As a result of this Parvez keeps a cricket bat in the taxi for protection. his inferior behaviour has become internalised. in a very direct manner. since he is not unfriendly and quite enjoys Parvez's company. However. Mr. Kureishi points out that "the backgrounds to the lives of these . Schitz fall naturally into this pattern. Schitz comes to town. again. Their relationship resembles that of a colonial master and a native servant. though in a less obvious version. Schitz uses Parvez. but does not respect him. particularly Louis Armstrong. Schitz is shocked and wants to inform the police. and is everything but pleased to be connected with this low status Pakistani family. and in many respects he prefers Britain to Pakistan. this might not be clear to Mr. In some respects Parvez is still a traditional man. on the other hand.. [5] Parvez and the other taxi drivers are also victims of physical racial abuse. He sees himself as a gentleman. This is evident in the scene where he drives Mr. he still does not turn his back on British society. Parvez seeks to serve Mr."[4] When Parvez joins Mr.

trying to get a foothold in a society that closely guards access to its more 'proper' ladders to the top" [6]. thus representing consumerism. Mr. Their relationship is a friendship based on mutual respect and understanding that eventually develops into a love relationship. as the film begins. as David Edelstein puts it.9).20). However. She understands him. Mr. at any cost. He lives his life in a society ruled by money in which everything is for sale. Parvez's immigration and assimilation has not made him a happy man. Parvez does not seem to question the society he has assimilated himself to. and seems to believe that you can make people do anything . except for his relationship with Bettina. "Sometimes I think . Like Son? During his upbringing Parvez's son Farid was also assimilated. Farid is not satisfied. He is working long hours and lives in a different world than his family and has become estranged from both his wife and son. Like Father. trying to get into modelling and drinking and doing drugs . He was even captain of the cricket team. thereby excelling at the colonizer's game. June Thomas points out that "for long as you pay them. and he thinks that everything and everyone can be bought. nothing in his way of life revealed that he was not Anglo-Saxon. He no longer has a philosophy of life and says. His life has become empty. Money Makes the World Go Around The society that Parvez has assimilated himself to is dominated by capitalism and consumerism. immigration to Britain represented a decision to prioritize materialism over spirituality" [7].if I hit that tree what difference?" (p.(p. possibly because. As David Edelstein argues. The people he meets represent different aspects of the economic system. namely her body. Both Parvez and Bettina want to belong to society. Somehow he feels lost in his life. "All I want is to pay mortgage" (p. even people. her "compromised purity seems to mirror his own" [8]. Thereby he is finally going to enter the British society properly and Parvez is very proud of his assimilated son and thrilled about the prospects for the whole family. He was studying to be an accountant.16). Schitz is a businessman who is involved in the building of a large shopping centre. was obsessed with clothes. Through this assimilated life he met fact. whom he. and also Parvez's services. and expresses a sense of belonging. is about to be engaged to. "[They] are playing by capitalism's rules. He buys Bettina and the other girls. Parvez has come to the point where he says. the Chief Inspector's daughter. The only person he has a true relationship with is the prostitute Bettina. . Schitz buys and Bettina sells the only thing she has to sell.

democracy. He is disgusted by capitalism and. who'd come here for a specific purpose. too. Kureishi has said that "unlike their parents. The fact that Farid does not feel that he belongs is made evident in the scene where he gives a Muslim . However. they make him see his life in a new light. Farid's abandonment of his accountancy studies signals his refusal to be part of an economic system in which humans. "This [religion] is the true alternative to empty living from day to day . For those whose lives had been negated by colonialism and racism such notions could only seem a luxury and of no benefit to them.. "Evil is all around. . are simply commodities to be bought and sold. they were a kind of hypocrisy" (p. and his father's life. but are kept at arm's length from." [10] Farid exchanges materialism for spirituality. He suddenly sees his life. of things . it is just capitalism and taking advantage" (p. born here. He says. had inherited only pointlessness and emptiness" [9]. tolerance . they. pluralism.. since Parvez is working hard to provide his only son with material goods. 69) and that he does not believe "the white and Jewish propaganda that there is nothing to our lives but the empty accountancy of things . and racism. as Bart Moore-Gilbert argues... As a result of his new perspective on life Farid gives up his accountancy studies. for nothing. many have instead turned to the religion of extremism for identity and life's meaning. since it symbolizes everything he wants to turn away from. Parvez's choice to prioritise materialism over spirituality has resulted in a spiritual void. 69). and capitalism and racism keep him. thereby making it more likely that he should turn against it. In the midst of corruption there can be purity" (p.. Carla Power argues that "rather than following their parents' immigrant path of job and measured assimilation and growing material prosperity. to make a life in the affluent West away from poverty and lack of opportunity. 69-70). Kureishi argues that "the central tenets of the West . Materially he has everything he could want. Spiritual emptiness gives him the motivation to search for a new way of life. When they are not allowed to enter society. and other second-generation immigrants at the fringe of society. as being immoral and wrong.could be treated as a joke. Everybody wants life to make sense.. for nothing . then one has to search for meaning. Farid reacts against the emptiness in his own life and in society. The brothers have given me the strength to save myself.... which afflicts Farid.. since it flaunts that which they could have.and when he meets other young second-generation immigrants who have turned to Islam. the benefits of that society can be seen as a provocation." (pp. Religion is that which brings meaning back into Farid's life. capitalism.. in the capitalist dominated world we are suffering from!" (p. 76). He discards of all his possessions and says." [11] Farid is pushed in the direction of fundamentalism both by spiritual emptiness.. He states that "accountancy . xi). and if it does not.

Fundamentalism is a way of saying 'no' to a society that is too much. 64). "For him [Farid].." (p. x). when Farid stops feeling inferior in the British society. 64) and he does not wish to be a part of it. But I am not inferior!" (pp. and his relationship with Bettina in particular. 65-66). and tell us how backward we are!" (p. Farid has nothing but contempt for his father's way of life in general. Kureishi and Udayan Prasad both make references to Scorsese's Taxi Driver. religious fundamentalism seems to offer an alternative to a prejudiced and immoral society" [14]. "If you break the law as stated then how can wickedness not follow?" (p. He says. ix). In My Son the Fanatic the Travis Bickle figure is split up into two: what he does (Parvez) and what he thinks (Farid). he [Farid] has found a way to escape feeling unwelcome in England" [13]. he starts feeling superior. However. Turning to fundamentalism has the effect that Farid no longer feels inferior. Farid is treated by society as being inferior. However. Farid uses religion to keep wickedness and corruption at bay.. they see prostitutes as the scum of the earth. They will never accept us like them. "unlike his more liberal father. He calls it "a society soaked in sex" (p. and attack them in an attempt to clean up the streets and purge society of its filth. 62). This scene parallels the scene where Parvez gave Mr. with music (the jazz music that functions as a leitmotif for both Parvez and Travis Bickle) and with the visuals of the film (both films show both the decay and the beauty of the cityscapes as the taxi drivers drive through the cities at night). He says. Like Travis. Farid is disgusted by the filth in the society he is on the edges of. Like Travis. while giving in made him feel weak" (p. "It sickens me to see you lacking pride. As Harvey Thompson argues. When Farid and his friends begin their mission he becomes a Travis Bickle figure. Janet Maslin argues that. but he refuses to be inferior. "They say integrate. He is ashamed and infuriated by Parvez's submissive behaviour and lack of self-esteem in relation to Fingerhut. Kureishi points out that "constraint could be a bulwark against a self that was always in danger of dissolving in the face of too much choice. Farid is not an exact copy of Travis Bickle. Taking Action This feeling of superiority leads Farid and his new friends to take action to clean up society and function as moral guards. Farid and his friends want to clean up society. but whereas Parvez expressed pride and belonging.maulvi [12] a guided tour of the city. opportunity and desire" (p. and later says to his father. Schitz a guided tour. Farid only expresses disgust and detachment. "Whatever we do here we will always be inferior. By turning to religion he can find purity in the midst of corruption and create order out of chaos. Even though the young men are . In his research he spoke to a young Muslim who told him that "renunciation made him feel strong . He says. both on story level (the Travis Bickle figure). 65). but they live in pornography and filth.

"There are many ways of being a good man" (p. We never did that" (p. in some ways" (p. Zephyr Films (for BBC). but who is the fanatic now?" (p. They stand up for things.. Parvez cannot find any understanding or sympathy for Farid's new life. Bettina is not the only one who shows understanding. However. He says. but he also has respect for them. and it is partly this feeling of being rootless and not belonging that makes him turn to fundamentalism. and Farid chooses fundamentalism.restricted by their religion. Their approaches to dealing with life in Britain are both extreme. It is positive. he is unable to make Farid listen to him. Parvez tells him. with Om Puri and Rachel Griffiths. It is irritating us all here. which he has not visited for a very long time. yaar. Reactions to Action Parvez does not understand Farid and the other fundamentalists. The roles are reversed and Farid pinpoints this saying. One day Parvez follows Farid into the mosque. and talks to one of the old Muslim men. But they have something these young people . Fanaticism is born out of desperation and conviction. Parvez chooses to be assimilated. 117). My Son the Fanatic. This final twist suggests that anyone can become a fanatic when pushed to the edge . dir. 1997. trying to beat sense into him. it empowers them. . Bettina had advis ed him to give Farid his philosophy of life hoping this would fill Farid's void. 58). turning away from Britain and towards Islam. "Who can blame the young for believing in something beside money? They are puzzled why a few people have everything and the poor must sell their bodies. It might also have prevented Farid from feeling rootless. He finds the young people annoying. "You call me fanatic. She says. might have prevented him from feeling that his life is meaningless. "They are always fighting for radical actions on many subjects.they're not afraid of the truth. and in a fit of desperation. powerlessness and anger Parvez attacks Farid. 120). since neither of them include integration. Parvez and Farid both go too far. 1 Udayan Prasad. each in his own direction. dirty man. Integration means preserving one's roots while knowing. 53). but Bettina partly sees their motivation. giving up his background and adopting the British way. participating and becoming a part of the society one lives in. and a successful integration where Parvez had preserved his roots and not uncritically adopted anything that is British.even the liberal and good-natured Parvez.

com. p. "The First 7/7 Movie". 5 My Son the but the present quotations originate from the script.msn. "Bradford" in Dreaming and Scheming(London: Faber and Faber. The two differ among themselves. p. "A Moving and Unconventional Love Story". p. 14 Harvey Thompson. 2001). p. 1999). p. June Edelstein. Hanif Kureishi.167. Further references will appear in the text). 1. "Generation Gap". 13 Janet Maslin. Introduction to My Son the Fanatic. (This analysis is based on both the film and the script. "The Road Exactly". "The Lost Generation" (Newsweek. 7 8 9 Hanif Kureishi.msn. 12 Spiritual leader." review of My Son the Fanatic (http://query. (http://slate. 1997).http://msnbc. p. 1. 1997).msn. 2005). to the top of the page . 6 David Edelstein. 2.xi.1. 2002).wsws. 10 Carla Power.71. Contemporary World Writers (Manchester: Manchester UP. p. 4 Hanif Kureishi. The Black Album (London: Faber & Faber.nytimes.2. review of My Son the Fanatic (www. p. 47. 1. "The In-Laws as Outlaws. 2005). 1995).org).2 Hanif Kureishi. (London: Faber and Faber. 3 "My Son the Fanatic" appears in Love in a Blue Time(London: Faber & Faber. 11 Bart Moore-Gilbert. (http://slate. p.