Review by Choice Review
Ponzanesi (Utrecht Univ.) reads Anglophone authors of South Asian (Indian and Pakistani) origin alongside East Africans (Eritrean and Somali) who write primarily in Italian but also in English and Tigrinya, the language of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Her analysis is historically grounded: Italy colonized the Horn of Africa, the British colonized South Asia. Postcolonial theory, developed first in reference to South Asia, later Africa, provides her conceptual vocabulary. Ponzanesi shows how postcolonial theory helps one read Italophone authors from Italy's former African colonies and how, at the same time, postcolonial theory may be "inadequate for addressing" the many variously localized and gendered texts written in languages other than English. Gender is an important category of her analysis; diaspora, mentioned in the subtitle, less so. Ponzanesi's attention to the question of language is laudable, sensitive, and sensible. The chapters on frequently taught works--e.g., Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine, Sara Suleri's Meatless Days--are good, and Ponzanesi has a gift for writing about texts drawn from "minor" literatures such as Eritreo-Italian. She also inventively develops concepts touched on in such studies as Francoise Lionnet's Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity (1995). The one weakness of this learned, well-argued book is an occasional excess of piety. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Large undergraduate and graduate collections. K. Tololyan Wesleyan University
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