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