The past century's culture wars that Britain has been consumed by, but that few North Americans seem aware of, have resulted in revised notions of Britishness and British literature. Yet literary anthologies remain anchored to an archaic Anglo-English interpretation of British literature. Conflicts have been played out over specific national vs. British identity (some residents prefer to describe themselves as being from Scotland, England, Wales, or Northern Ireland instead of Britain), in debates over immigration, race, ethnicity, class, and gender, and in arguments over British literature. These debates are strikingly detailed in such chapters as: "The Difficulty Defining 'Black British'," "British Jewish Writers" and "Xenophobia and the Booker Prize." Connections are also drawn between civil rights movements in the U.S. and UK. This generalist cultural study is a lively read and a fascinating glimpse into Britain's changing identity as reflected in 20th and 21st century British literature.
Table of Contents:
Foreword by Thomas C. Caramagno
Introduction: Mind the Gap
1. The Imploded Empire: Literary Reactions to Britain's Changed Empire
2. The Difficulty Defining British Literature
3. The Difficulty Defining "Black British"
4. Two Nations: Class Issues in Contemporary British Literature
5. British Jewish Writers
6. Xenophobia and the Booker Prize
7. Britain's "New" Multicultural Identity
Appendix I: Man Booker Prize Winners
Appendix II: International Man Booker Prize Winners
Appendix III: Orange Prize Winners