Thursday, February 21, 2013

UK Multiculturalism/White Flight & Smith's White Teeth

 From yesterday's BBC story "Why have the white British left London?:"
Something quite remarkable happened in London in the first decade of the new millennium. The number of white British people in the capital fell by 620,000 - equivalent to the entire population of Glasgow moving out. The consequence, as revealed by the latest census, is that white Brits are now in a minority in London, making up just 45% of its residents.
(Check out the comments on the story: I find them especially interesting.)

What's a novel about multiculturalism in London? Zadie Smith's White Teeth, which Time magazine listed as one of its 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005:
Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie's best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for "no problem"). Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly "foreign"— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire's worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.

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