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Canonizing Othering and Reassertion of Orientalism in Contemporary Anglophone Young Adult Fiction by American and European Writers of Pakistani Origin
The present paper based on the theoretical underpinning of Graham Huggan’s The Postcolonial Exotic and Lisa Lau’s Re-Orientalism: The Perpetration and Development of Orientalism by Oriental explores the archetypal, essentialist and the stereotype representation in contemporary young adult fictions Skunk Girl (2009) by Sheba Karim and Wanting Mor (2010) by Rukhsana Khan, the American/European Pakistani authors. Both Huggan and Lau have traced the intended strategies deployed by the Anglophonic authors particularly those of global critical acclaim, winners of laurels and awards have asserted the notion of othering, whereupon getting the legitimation and license of global merchandising. All emerging genres including young adult fictions by Anglophone writers enthralled by the contemporary trend of global merchandising are treading in the footsteps of their seniors. It is the portrayal of these essentialist tropes in the young adult fictions, primarily by the aforementioned writers that the current paper intends to embark.
Anglophone, Exotic, stereotype, orientalism, Young adult fiction.
The South Asian Anglophone literature has turned out to be an indispensable part of the academia and paved its way as international literature. Undeniably, these writings, commonly assumed as literature of resistance has its artistic ambiance, but ironically whether to get recognition and fame from their colonial masters or to gain access and sustenance in the market, the Post-colonial literature in general and South Asian literature in specific now explicitly portray all those essential tropes which the western market desires.
Though the exotic charm of the East has always enchanted West; nevertheless, it has been presented by the West with certain weirdness and strangeness purposely as opposite of West. If West is proclaimed as enlightened, advanced and technologically developed, East is invariably portrayed as direct antithesis as regressive, illogical, confused and disorderly. Undoubtedly, during colonial rule these binaries were carried out by the colonial masters as evident in Said’s Orientalism (1999), but in this globalized epoch, the Orient intellectuals residing in West are the torch bearers of this legacy. Apparently, these Orient intellectuals have paved their way into the academic world by presenting the voices of marginalized and unheard communities, whereby adding multiplicity to the existing voices but have ended up in presenting them with a difference and with the assertion of othering. Through backing and aid of the West in the form of rewards and grants, these intellectuals are the ambassador of this notion .This merchandised technique of portraying the essential cliché and the paradoxical nature of post-colonial literature is identified by Spivak (1988), an orient intellectual who has considered this representation as an epistemic violence done to gain a privileged position in the western dominated academia, once they get the stage to make themselves heard, they stop representing the marginal voices and start advocating the western voices. (Spivak 1988).
The effective marketing of stereotypes by the Orients for the Western market has been pointed out by Huggan (1994), who believed that the labelling of these works as Orientals or South Asian adds the quaintness satiating the thirst of western consumers as the superior other to the recessive East. He believed that this “intellectual tourism” (Huggins 1994, 88) created in the mask of multicity or multiculturalism is in fact the portrayal of othering. The western market extensively commoditizes everything in the name of uniqueness but at the cost of assertion of superiority of West over East.
Huggan’s notion is endorsed by Lisa Lau (2011) who mapped out the depiction of stereotypical themes and the holistic representations in the work of orients whereby not only asserting the notion of othering but also “a reductionist representation at the expense of holistic ones, and a deliberate process of self- othering” (L. Lau 2011., 13). While introducing the term re-orientalism she has marked out on how “cultural producers with eastern affiliations come to terms with an Orientalized East, whether by complying with perceived expectations of western readers, by playing (along) with them or by discarding them altogether” (Lau, 2011, p. 3). Lisa opines that Orientals deliberately take benefit of their peripheral position emphatically asserting the notion of East as different, by intentionally assuming the role of an interpreter. By successfully bridging the gap between the two cultures with their linguistic expertise, they end up in portraying what is in vogue and not what reality is.
Both Huggan and Lau have strongly taken to task the aggressive marketing mechanism adopted by Anglophone writers in portrayal of these stereotype tropes labelling them to be a true representation in western market.
The exotic stereotypical portrayal of culture has been by all postcolonial writers but the recent obsession seems to be more prevalent in South Asian writers from India and Pakistan. Not only they share similar social, economic and political situations but also have the same history of colonial rule by the same masters, they even share the same literary trends. Mukherjee (2003) is of the view that since the standards set by prominent writers such as Rushide and Rao were quite high, the forthcoming writers now depict pseudo-Indianisms in their works, a substandard other Indian. For Lisa, the list of essential tropes portrayed by these Oriental writers goes as: “exaggeration, typecasting, stereotyping, exoticizing, pandering to western tastes, demands and expectations, selling out, having mercenary motives, playing to the gallery, to more sophisticated misrepresentations of totalizing, essentializing, subalternism, marginalizing, and most recently of all, re–Orientalizing. (Lau, 2011, p. 30).
Pakistani writers are no more different than their Indian predecessors, while using English as a medium of their narrative they intend to write for their European readers more but by using the suggested reductionist lens. In this attempt they end up in portraying the fixed exotic stereotypes of their culture satiating the prerequisites of both the western readers and the publishing pundits. Similarly, while treading on the footsteps the American/ European authors of the young adult fictions are also carrying forth the legacy set by their seniors.
Research Questions and Research Methodology
This paper primarily focuses on two young adult fictions The Skunk Girl (2009) by Sheba Karim and Wanting Mor (2010) by Rukhsana Khan following theoretical underpinning of two eminent theorists Graham Huggan and Lisa Lau, based upon their works The Postcolonial Exotic (2001) and Re- Orientalism: The Perpetration and development of Orientalism by Oriental (2009) to get the answer of the following queries.
To what extent has the Anglophone young adult fiction by South Asian writers been commoditized?
What artistic strategies have been adopted by the Anglophonic authors of young adult fictions to emphasize upon the reassertion of West as the best thereby strengthening re-orientalism?
The analysis will be done by focusing on textual analysis of two fictions The Skunk Girl (2009) by Sheba Karim and Wanting Mor (2010) by Rukhsana Khan, based on exploratory and interpretative technique of qualitative model. The aforementioned texts are by female writers of South Asian origin, with the major focus upon female protagonists. The intriguing aspect of these texts is the recurring portrayal of the stereotypical and exotic depiction of Asian culture and practice, with the ultimate motive of presenting it as exotic other to the West using Primary and secondary source.
As the focus of this research is predominantly the reassertion of stereotype and the depictions of exotic, the two tenants of Re-Orientalism as projected by Lisa Lau and Graham Huggan, this review would principally focus upon the review of South Asian Anglophone texts and fiction to strengthen the above notion.
The importance of Anglophone literature in academia has been critically and artistically established as an authentic mouthpiece of a culture and as a resistant literature but it has been a source of thrifty business too. For King Kok Cheung (1997) “marginal cultural productions are capitalized on today’s marketplace” (195). For Lisa Lau the South Asian Anglophone texts in general subscribe to one of the artistic qualities in which the stereo-typicality is foregrounded under in the mask of incorporation, hybridism or contrast as prescribed by the gurus of the publication industry, the global audience, critics and experts, resultantly, they are circulated extensively. These marketable trends are what Lau termed as the Re-orientalism, the extension of Edwards Said’s (1978) notion of Orientalism whereby asserting the supremacy of West by the orients themselves. With decolonization, the East, urged by the notion of representation fell in the laps of the West orientated writers who had been portraying the essentialist overview of the Orients reasserting the notion of othering as had been done in the era of imperialism by their colonial masters. While bearing the label of the authentic and true representative, they are considered as legitimate to do so.
Lau’s portrayal of essentialist stereotypes by the Orients has been taken as a serious concern; Anis Shivani (2009) highlighted the recurrent consumer oriented techniques particularly the way of exotifying stereotypes by these writers. Huggan is critical of the depiction of culture as foreign thereby exotifying it, making their artistic work a commodity to be readily consumed by the market. For him the Postcolonial writers only write for “global commodification of cultural difference”, to be a part of “booming alterity industry” (Huggins 1994, 344) . The tremendous success of Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Arundathi Roy undoubtedly owe to their artistic creation, but more to the celebration of cultural difference in their works making them a reaping sales figure. By focusing upon Bookers Awards in general to South Asian writers, and particularly the prestigious Booker of the Bookers to Salman Rushide’s The Midnight’s Children as a vintage point of his discussion he asserted that “The novel reveals to its Western readers their hunger to consume: it feeds their desire for entertainment; satiates their keen exoticism appetites; but it never fails to mock them for their complicities enjoyment” (Ibid 84). It is its commoditized aspect that predominates over the artistic ambiance. Extending Huggan ideas further, Ray (2008) asserted that Rushdie has very ingeniously fused exotic incidences as “proffering snake charmers and stammering saddhus, characters and descriptions of exoticism that offer sly gibes at those who might simply consume his fiction for its ‘otherness’” (Roy 2008, 132).as the utilitarian motive was the market acceptance. The mushroom launching of the branches of transnational firm in the South Asian regions as Addison-Wesley, Cambridge University Press, HarperCollins, Hall, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan, Penguin and Prentice Oxford University Press are but for the commodification of this culture difference.
The literary practices of Pakistan is moderately feeble so Pakistani authors and academician have always relied upon India for their publications, the important novels such as Trespassing by Uzma Aslam Khan, Tunnel Vision (2007) Shandana Minnhass and A Case of Exploding Mangoes(2008) by Mohsin Hamid were initially printed in India after successfully incorporating the issues and themes of migration, ethnicity, race, and culture thereby creating Othering. Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers is about honor killing another commoditized prototype of stereotype of orient women as a third grade oppressed citizens adhering to the universal claim, East the worst. For Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist, the equivocal assertion of Naqvi speaks volumes when he reiterates that this text serves as the ground-breaking version of “raft of Pakistani fiction that was tied into the US, Islam, Pakistan, and terrorism. Every subsequent novel seemed to have one or all of these signifiers in their title, and many of these were about the trauma of well-adjusted upper-class Pakistanis in the West facing the fallout of the attacks” (Naqvi 2014). This Western supported literature has been censured by Aijazz Ahmed who has seen Rushdie’s work as “…blurbs on the Vintage paperback edition of Shame—based partly on a quotation from the New York Times—compare him with Swift, Voltaire, Stern, Kafka, Grass, Kundera and Marquez” (Ahmed). These globally acknowledged authors are taken as the authentic ambassadors of East but they comply with the set merit dictated by the globalized capitalists.
Not only has the adult fiction by Pakistani writers transmuted itself into a fetish cultural product, but the young adult Anglophonic fiction by American / European writers of Pakistani origin has also followed a similar course. These texts have been critically acclaimed and acknowledged as indicated from the prizes they have won. Besides, the tremendous success of South Asia Book Award (SABA), a popular sub-category of YALSA endorses the terrific triumph of Anglophone young Adult Fiction. Though apparently, they have depicted another dimension of South Asian culture seemingly refuting the declaration of the established stereotype but as by Rosagam and Pillai (2016) the repetitive theme of Anglophonic YA fiction though is the journey of self but “not just as an individual who is at the cusp of adulthood but also as the "other" in a white society” (Pillai 2016, 44) clearly showing the reassertion of portrayal of stereotype in one way.
Despite the wide spread popularity and acceptances by the renowned pundits of the publishing industry, these texts have not been explored in depth and not been seriously taken as a convener of portrayal of the society. It is this gap that the present research intends to highlight. The research by focusing on two fundamental texts by Pakistani writers The Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim and Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan intends to highlight their status as a portrayal of post-colonial cliché, chiefly, the stereotypes and exoticism.
Analysis of the Texts
The first text under analysis is The Skunk Girl (2009) by an American author of Pakistani origin, Sheba Karim. Karim is also the author of That Thing we call a Heart (2017) and Mariam Sharma Hits the Road (2018) both of which have been critically acclaimed and established. She hails from IOWA academy which is visited by literary pundits of renowned fame.
Though Skunk Girl has been artistically acclaimed, but the truth is that it is precisely written for the market as confessed by Karim in an interview where she admitted as there are just a “few books out there about what it’s like to grow up Pakistani in this country,” (Karim, Author Interview :Sheba Karim 2009). The major theme of the novel is about a sixteen year old Pakistani origin girl Nina, her relationship with her parents and her relatives, the Asian concerns about their children, her longing to gain emancipation, and liberty to enjoy normal teenage practices like dancing, dating and partying which her white peers enjoy, her first love affair with an Italian boy Asher RiChilli and lastly her secret of being a ‘hairy girl’.
The novel thoroughly highlights the stereotype portrayal of characters, culture, practices and beliefs of Pakistan, a South Asian country. Karim begins by focusing upon the stereotypical portrayal of Nina’s father, but extends it to a universal portrayal of the South Asian parents in particular. For instance, her class fellows believe that Nina’s parents would be highly displeased to the extent of killing her if she is found kissing a boy despite Nina’s firm negation because she believes that:
I must defend my father. He may be conservative, but he’s no murderer like those nutty Islamic fanatics they show on TV movies who marry unsuspecting white women, then kidnap their daughters and take them to some unnamed Middle Eastern country. (Ibid).
In the subsequent pages, she re-portrays her own parents as typecasts too when she mentions that she is not allowed to go out with boys and have never been allowed to attend the annual prom night because of “lack of morality in the western culture” (138). Her age-old companionship with her friends is immediately stopped, once her parents come to know about one of Nina’s friends socializing a boy. All these assert and affirm his stereotypical image. For Mukherji there is a clear rationale behind all these attempts that since the South Asians could not uphold the criterions set by great Rushdie or Rao, they have adopted what Lisa Lau has emphasized “exaggeration, typecasting, stereotyping, exoticizing, and pandering to western tastes, demands and expectations” (L. Lau, 30). Despite her all efforts to outwit the label, she is not invited by her classmate to her party, as her friend openly emphasized that she will not be allowed by her parents to attend. Since the Asian parenting mode is completely opposite of the Western parenting practices and despite generating far more desirous results, it is always looked down upon and treated as other which is what Karim has done.
For Lau, the Anglophonic literature is loaded with “a reductionist representation at the expense of holistic ones, and a deliberate process of self- othering” (Lau & Mendes13) this is what Karim has expedited through her leading role. Nina’s colour and race has never been pointed out by her white classmates but Nina herself because “it sucks being one of the only brown kids in the school” (8). Not just Nina, her parents also insist that their daughters should choose “a doctor…and he shouldn’t be too dark” (122), a desire echoing the reassertion of self-othering. For that matter, Nina’s parents shocking reaction after coming to know about Bridget dating “a black boy?” (138) is but an extension of this self-othering.
The notion of exotic and South Asian fictions always go hand in hand as it strengthens othering thereby satisfying the superiority complex of the West over the East. Graham Huggan (1992) elaborates the term exotic as it, “exoticism, in this context, might be described as a kind of semiotic circuit that oscillates between the opposite poles of strangeness and familiarity” (Huggins 1994, 13). Karim has created the notion of exoticism by addressing to a hushed topic in Pakistani society of body hair which is never talked about publically and even privately. When Nina asks her mother about her hairy body she says, “lot of Pakistani women are hairy Nina, It’s not a big deal” (20). Her statement is sufficient enough to make Pakistani women in general and the orient women as different and exotic in contrast to the occident women. Nina describes her body hair as, a “wide line of soft dark hair running from the nape of my neck down to the base of my spine-------right down the center of my back like a skunk” (104), due to which she feels “outcast, ostracized” (105). This issue has not been accidently touched upon by Karim but it has been intentionally taken up as answered in a blog:
Body hair was something that my South Asian friends and I had to deal with growing up, and it was so embarrassing we were only comfortable talking about it with each other. If you’re going to write a realistic and honest book about how difficult it is to grow up South Asian in the US, than body hair has to be part of it. (Sayantani 2010).
The exotic representation of the South Asian women and that too by female Anglophone writers tailor “to Western fantasies of the exotic Third World woman” (Phukan 2009, 4) is to make their texts a saleable commodity. Karim is not the first to exotify Asian women, the celebrated South Asian novelists like Samina Ali and Jhampa Lahiri too have shown prominent and exotic images of South Asian women on the cover pages of their works enabling them to be a successful exotic commodities.
One of the stereotype issues evident in South Asian texts is the celebration of hybridity which opined by Young “implies a disruption and forcing together of unlike things” (Young 2009, 111) whereas Bhaba interpreted it as “interdependence of colonizer/colonized relation” (2009, Ibid 108). The celebrated authors such as Buci Emecheta, Bharati Mukheree, Hanif Kureishi and many more have noticeably highlighted hybridity as the only possibility of the migrant communities by interweaving and adapting artistic, cultural and religious practices.
In Skunk Girl, the cultural practices along with the religious practices to highlight hybridity have been explicitly revealed. Nina’s entire family observes the religious doctrines moderately with the exception of Nina’s mother who strongly adheres to these practices. Nina’s religious tutor Hassan tries to dissuade the family from hanging a painting depicting two Mexican Women carrying bouquet of flowers because “It is haram to depict human figures,” (82). But it is he, who is refrained from the house because of his religious obstinacy while her parents continue teaching Quran to their children “under the watchful eyes of the Mexican women” (83). The insistence on acceptance of hybridity in religion is uttered through a long lecture by Sonia, the protagonist’s sister:
Whose definition are you applying to that? In every religion people pick and choose what they want to follow--------You can’t spend your life worrying about what other people will think. If you live decently and help others, is Allah going to condemn you simply because you had a beer? I don’t think so, but others might. In the end, you have to do what you believe is right (208-209).
Sonia’s long sermon echoes the normality of hybridity, announcing that one should follow what one considers to be right, regardless of traditional religious doctrines .Hybridity is not assumed as the denial of the identity but as a doctrine of life to be a part of this world.
Sonia’s advice has a positive impact upon Nina, who embraces hybridity by going to parties, where she even experience the first drink, the first kiss and even dances but at the same time adopts to Pakistani culture when she visits Pakistan without any guilt and is accepted by her western peers and Asian relatives.
To sum up, it can be justly remarked that Karim’s Skunk Girl has artistically yet intentionally endorsed East as other to the West. Karim’s text is yet another proof of validation of Lisa Lau and Huggan notion of projection of othering by the orients to acquire global appreciation and recognition.
The second text under analysis is Wanting Mor (2009) by Rukhsana Khan who is another Pakistani origin Anglophone writer living in Ontario Canada. Her prominent works include The Roses in My Carpets (1998), Bedtime Ba-a-a-lk (1998), Dahling, If You Luv Me Would You Please, Please Smile (1999). King of the Skies (2001), Big Red Lollipop, Silly Chicken (2005), Ruler of the Courtyard (2003),
Wanting Mor (2009) is one of the novels which won the Middle East Book Award (2009), Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens 2010, CYBIL Awards 2009, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society 2010, Muslim Writer’s Awards Children’s Books 2011, SSLI Honour Book 2009, USBBY Outstanding International 2010. In one of her blogs Rukhsana Khan openly stated that her stories primarily deals with the issues which is prescribed to her by the market signifying monetarist concern in the selection her topics . Her novel Wanting Mor is about an ‘orphan Muslim girl’, the setting is Afghanistan, another south Asian country making it a highly saleable topic for the Western customers.
The novel is catchy enough to grasp the attention of the western audience, as the setting is the devastated Afghanistan, focusing upon the struggle of an Afghani girl that too with an apparent physical abnormality, which are her cleft lips, along with other typical South Asian issues, as the sudden demise of her beloved mother, her life with her abusive father and his second wife, her desertion in a busy market by her own father, and her final settlement in an orphanage run by American forces
According to Huggan, popularity of Anglophonic literature is primarily because of the exotic representation of cultural practices and norms and least due to the artistic creativity,which this novel also subscribe to. The title of the novel Wanting Mor is self-exotic as it rouses many probes in one’s mind such as, is there something wrong with the title If so-- what? Has it been mis-spelled, what does ‘Mor’ indicate? The quest of the answer takes to the construing of the novel where there is a vivid portrayal of an orient culture.
The novel takes the reader to the cultural tour of a war trodden Afghanistan which is one of the most discussed states especially after the ignominy of 9/11 and of US invasion, a country administrated by Taliban, one of the extremist religious groups. Economically, it is also one of the states with the lowermost per capita revenue, poverty afflicted population, along with corruption and unemployment, sans technological development, presenting a seamless depiction of the East as anticipated by the West.
As the plot is about a Muslim Afghani girl Jameela with cleft lips, who is abandoned by her own father in one of the busiest markets of Afghanistan ends up in orphanage administrated by US forces. Jameela replicates a marginalized woman having a demeanor of a slave adhering to the demands of the society and her near and dear ones. She began this role in her mother’s life, doing all the house hold chores and continued performing this role after her mother’s death by becoming the silent caretaker of her father asserting her to be a stereotype Asian woman. Similarly, the exposé of her father as an indolent, immodest and alcoholic certifies him to be a stereotype man too. Being detested by the community, the women stay away from Jameela’s house though they guided her after the demise of her mother but only when “he’s gone” (Khan 2009, 19). Jameela’s role is unchanged wherever she goes, as she cooks, cleanses and launders without complaining. She cannot express her needs and remains silent for her strongest longings of reading and writing. She absolutely adheres to the notion of a stereotype orient mirroring as other to appease the Western criterion, an idea summed up by Rahman, “The portrayal of women as marginalized figures denied of any voice, or independent life is a reaffirmation of western beliefs. They have a pretty fixed image of third world female living an extremely miserable life.” (B. H. Rahman 2010).
Being an evocative of Kucheck Hanem of Flaubert (1821), she remain indifferent when her mor dies and her father plans to leave the place for good. Her blind obedience to the wishes of everybody is comprehensively highlighted all over the novel. For her, doing entire chores, as cleaning, cooking, washing and to sleep in the hallway, is normality which she obeys un- reluctantly. Her indifference at her father’s next matrimonial that too immediately after her mother’s death, her blind compliance to her stepmother and her half-brother even perplex the readers. Her thorough obedience and reliance upon others makes her saneness quizzical principally when after being deserted by her father in a busy marketplace, she readily forgives him, qualifying her as per Said’s notion (1978) who opined orient women “is no more than a machine ----------she never spoke of herself, never represented her emotions, presence or history” (Said 2009, 178). Jameela exhibit the characteristics of submission to an internalized patriarchy, which proclaims the natural habituation of observing patriarchy exhibiting its traits. Her faithfulness to patriarchy is due to the forceful indoctrination of societal customs and values.
It is not only Jameela who embraces internalized patriarchy, her cleft lip, which humiliates her is operated and fixed by the US Army Surgeons without any cost by highlighting so, Khan has indirectly tried to assert that she is saved from her torment by the Occident physicians who were Knights in shining armor for her. Her cleft lips symbolically represent her marginalization and ousting by her South Asian male dominated society. Khan has further implied that the apparent physical and locality transformation makes her strong and resilient enough not only to face her father and her society. She rejects patriarchy because of the confidence given by American orphanage and the surgery asserting the notion of West as savior more profusely.
It is not Jameela, who is a stereotype orient, the men folk in the novel are modelled upon stereotype orients too. Her father is a bearer of certain attributes only as he is an alcoholic , sluggish and immodest who tried to intimate the wife of an Agha, his caretaker, and weds a widow for fiscal reason bearing no empathy for women, even abandons his daughter for good. Jameela’s father is a tangible proof of acceptance of internalized patriarchy. As a man he cannot cry over his wife’s death and embraces disparaging ways inhaling charas, (a local drug) to cope up with pains. The lone decision maker of his family compels him to take hurried choices creating trouble for his entire family. His choice of getting out of Kabul, and marrying a rich widow are beneficial but only for him and not for her adding him yet another model of an internalized patriarchy. Taking this notion further, other males too are but types. Her stepbrother Masood, initially appears to be antithetical of this internalized patriarchy as he is kind and compassionate to her, believing in equality and justice and even assisting her in her lessons but makes him a weaker man. His seeming corporeal flaw, as having one leg lost in a mine blast parallels his weak personality resulting in making his house an arena of a dual between his wife and mother. Khan’s representation of all orient men as—backward, ignorant, immodest and pretentious typecasts clearly strengthens internalized patriarchy.
Huggan’s notion of the exotic is portrayed through detailed description practices and norms of orient culture. The novel has a detailed account of day-to-day practices, customs and practices of Afghani culture. The thorough account highlights the exotic, uncivilized and uncultured orients, for instance Khan describes how Jameela makes the fire for preparing tea as she “strikes the flint with steel” (Ibid 20) and then she elaborates the procedure further involving flint, grass and wood. Knowing clearly those details would effectively excite the interest of western indulging them to find more about the daily life of Afghans but at the same-time underlining the technical and economical backwardness of this country as most westerners may not even slightest idea of flint, grass, and wood. Similarly, Jameela’s consumption of ashes as detergent for washing crockery further strengthens western notion of orients as other. Khan begins with smaller details and goes to graphic details of important rituals such as the burial ritual:
First we take a sheet and cover it .Then working under the sheet, we remove my mother’s clothes------muttering prayers, we gently clean her, make wudu for her, then wash her hair, the right side of her body, then left------------when her body is clean we are ready to wrap her------some of the women are wailing (Ibid 12-13) .
The explicit description fused with the religious and cultural doctrines beginning with a minute detail from the prayers to be read and the coffin to be shrouded is fascinating but exotic. These graphic portrayal of Afghani culture is exotic and yet ideological. As opined by Linda Nochlin such descriptions are “to certify that the people encapsulated by it, defined by its presence, are irredeemably different from, more backward than, and culturally inferior to those who construct” (Nochlins 1989, 51).
The significance of language in the depiction of culture cannot be undermined. According to Ashcroft and Griffiths (2002) the aboriginal writers deploy either the technique of the abrogation or the appropriation to exotify the culture. The text of Wanting Mor represents both of these as the text is complemented with the native lexicon as mor, Agha, purani, chadri , charpae dusterkhaan, corbacha, ghusl and so on and so forth. These lexicons both validate and exotify culture. To Ashcroft and Griffiths the use of the abrogation inevitably asserts the sovereignty of English beside serving as the substantiation of the authentic projection of East but as essentially dissimilar and inferior other. According to Lisa Lau “re-Oriental writers set themselves up as ‘translators’, translating one culture to/for the other, have the dual role of opening the channels of communication, but also of holding the two sides separate because it is this very separation which lends heightened significance to their role” (L. a. Lau 2011, 585). It is this notion that has been openly projected by Khan.
For the West, East lacks refinement order and discipline, a heritage fashioned by the colonial novelists especially by E.M Forster in A Passage to India (1924). This lack of sophistication is juxtaposed, as other to the organized and cultured West. The exploitation of power and corruption, poverty and slum might not be bizarre and unacquainted to the West but it is this image which is expected to be portrayed to assert the notion of othering. Khan provides a very vivid picture of Kabul as:
As we get nearer to Kabul, the houses get closer and closer together, leaning up against each other like they’re tired. The air is yellow and it tastes thick. How can they breathe? The exhaust of hundreds of cars clogging the road makes me cough. And everywhere there are people! I never dreamed there were so many! They don’t look friendly. They walk with their heads bend down, scowl on their faces. And many of the women are bare headed. There are ragged children everywhere (Ibid 29).
This expounded image highlight Kabul as a dirty and polluted, inhabited by violent and antagonistic males, the subjugated females and the poverty afflicted children. The novel is loaded with such a description, where Kabul appears to be what a westerner has already anticipated as exotic yet inferior.
To sum up, Wanting Mor the detailed setting and themes, norms, practices and language enforces the ideology of othering.
The above detailed analysis clearl reveal that the acceptance of Young Adult fictions by Pakistani writers in the globalized arena owes to their transformation as a commodity whereby strengthening the ideology of othering. These and many other such texts are popular as they advocate and reassert the tropes as stereotypes and exoticism. Both The Skunk Girl and Wanting Mor, have focused on those themes from which they could gain monetary benefits in the form of honors and rewards .A conscious effort has been made by the writer by adding minutest details to ensure the dissimilarity between the East and the West. These details intentionally shuns the holistic details but the minor and the unfamiliar has been maximized validating Graham Huggan’s opinion that “postcolonial world, has capitalized on its perceived marginality while helping turn marginality itself into a valuable intellectual commodity” (Huggins 1994, viii).