Tell me a story Dad: (Post)memory and the archaeology of subjectivity in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart
SourceJournal of Postcolonial Writing
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This article argues that there are complex connections between imagined and lived experiences of “Britishness” in Hanif Kureishi’s (re)constructions of the past in his memoir My Ear at His Heart. These connections are inextricably tied to Kureishi’s relationships with the father figures in his life, and as such they can provide interpretive insights into both his work and the process of authorial self-fashioning. The focus of the article is on how Kureishi “imagines” a past, a father, an India and a migratory experience through the writings of his father, and on the way in which these affect his development as author, individual, and British subject. Ultimately, it is suggested this process enables Kureishi to rethink himself, his work, his father and his past, although not without issues and tensions, as all these dimensions collapse into the unreliable domain of memory. Kureishi’s process of identity formation is seen here as an “archaeology of subjectivity”, in the sense that he constructs a self and a persona, in large part by excavating through the self-constitutive memories of the previous generation.