How can Such a Long Journey from Rohinton Mistry be read as postcolonial literature?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Postcolonial literature emphasizes "the view from below" or the point of view of the oppressed. Often it is written by people from countries with a long history of being oppressed by European colonial occupiers who came in and exploited the land and its people. However, more broadly, it can represent any view that depicts the lives of the oppressed. It counters the official, often rosy narrative of the dominant group with a different version of the story.

Mistry's novel, which takes place in India in the 1970s, fits the description of post-colonial because it tells its story from the point of view of oppressed Indians and outlines in detail the extreme poverty that existed in India. While it is not attacking an outside colonial power, it is criticizing a system that treats lower-class people with humiliation, imprisonment in a work camp, and torture. A character refers to a real-life political leader, Bal Thackery, as one who "worships Hitler and Mussolini." This depiction of a politician struck such a nerve in the ruling elite that the book was banned in 2010 from the University of Mumbai's reading list. Like other post-colonial literature, it brings to light aspects of society that the "official" version would rather keep quiet and explores the effects of poverty, cruelty, and injustice.

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Such a Long Journey

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