Document Type: Research Articles
Senior Lecturer in English Literature, School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia.
The South Asian American diasporic writer, Jhumpa Lahiri has been widely acclaimed by the first-world intellectuals for her truthful representations of diasporic experience. In recent years, however, some scholars have drawn upon Gayatri Spivak’s notion of “Native Informant” to interrogate the controversial canonization of Lahiri in the West, and point instead to her disavowed participation in the production of favored knowledge. In consideration of the rising incidence of critical controversies in naming the diasporic writer, this article aims to conduct a review of the established literature to synthesize and integrate the copious amount of scholarly insights available on variables related to naming and categorizing. To this end, the corpus of interpretation, criticism and appreciation are surveyed with three questions in mind: What controversial and mixed reactions have Lahiri and her fiction provoked? How much deliberation has been given to interpreting her short stories and novels as works of art, and how much thought has been given to critique or to side issues? This will allow the researcher to track the critical gaze that seemingly produces auras of exoticism and thereby allegedly appropriates the position of the writer as a Native Informant. The study concludes that the major concern of any critical work on Lahiri should not merely be the issues of diasporas and cultural tensions, but facets of the author’s politics of representation.