“Bozorg Mishi Yadet Mire”: The U.S. University in Moth Smoke and Dakhmeh

By Elizabeth Rich.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Reviews of Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke (2000) and Naveed Noori’s Dakhmeh (2003) highlight tension within the novels’ protagonists, tensions between modern Western and traditional Islamic identities, as if they are separate. Moth Smoke’s Daru trains at the best university in Lahore, gets a middle-class banking job, and loses it. He roams Lahore, an ironical critic of the influence of the West and traditional Islamic men, of whom Daru says, “Unshaven boys are the new populists” (32). Similarly, in Dakhmeh after growing up in the U.S., Arash returns to Tehran only to feel an outsider. Looking closely at how the university functions in both novels, however, one sees its effect on even those who remain outside of or underexposed to Western education. A finer edge of critique, a more problematical feeling of tension, this paper will argue, arises not from a so-called “clash of cultures” but from a failure to find an authentic life, which is not the result of cultural difference but a product of U.S. hegemony, as the U.S. university contributes to the invention of, as Daru calls them, “the fundos” as well as to the educated elite. The incarcerated body in both novels demonstrates a link between ideology and corporeal punishment.

Keywords: Ideology, The Body, U.S., University, Punishment, Literature, Novel, Pakistan, Lahore, Iran, Tehran, Mohsin, Noori

Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.179-182. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 448.730KB).

Dr. Elizabeth Rich

Associate Professor, Department of English, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, Michigan, USA

My area of concentration is 20th century British and U.S. Literature. I have published on the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, the rhetoric of the American Indian Movement, and a novel by Penelope Lively. I have given papers on Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum, Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, Margaret Atwood’s poetry and novels, Susan Howe’s Singluarities, and many other experimental and avant-garde novels and poetry.


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