Up and Down the City Road: London in the Other’s Eyes


This paper probes into two facets of the life of Indian immigrants in post-war London portrayed in Anita Desai's Bye-Bye, Blackbird. On the one side, there is the expected and familiar outburst of nationalistic xenophobia on behalf of the domestic population of this urban landscape, triggered by the arrival of numerous immigrants from the Commonwealth countries during the fifties and the sixties, and fuelled by the fact that all of them seemed to have come to stay. However, on the other side, almost the same amount of detestation for the former colonisers is demonstrated by the Indians themselves: both the newcomers and those who have already spent some time in this hostile environment. This intense dislike is pervaded with their own nationalistic feelings and tinted by patriotic love for the far-away country of origin. In this exquisite study of the confrontation arising between two differently coloured races, of the clash between the East and the West, the conflict of the Self and the Other, Desai humorously translates nationalism into nostalgic intolerance in the hearts of the young prejudiced Indians. Consequently, one of the main protagonists, despite being imbued with British culture since an early age, concludes that the time has come for Indian immigrants to take over London, spread over England, feed the Brits on Indian dishes, clothe them into Indian costumes, in one word, 'strike back' by doing everything that the colonisers had done in their country and to their people.

Author Information
Ljiljana Markovic, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Biljana Djoric Francuski, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Paper Information
Conference: CITY2016
Stream: Language. Literature and Linguistics

This paper is part of the CITY2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon