Xenopobia is nothing new, look at the attacks in South Africa in recent years against African foreigners trying to earn a living in that country. Experience tells me, however, that current feelings of discrimination in Britain are unlikely to have this term applied to them despite xenophobia being rife especially since the start of the 2016 campaign to leave Europe. I’ve heard it said that Britain’s recent immigration policy is responsible for the rise religious groups which are not Christian. This is not true as Britain has a long history of immigration and foreign settlement. It’s one of the things that had, in the past (and hopefully will again), made Britain the accommodating multi-cultural society it was. One of the benefits of a multi-cultural society is the inspiration for authors – many building their own and others’ experiences into their writing.
This is the case for TSL author Anna Ryland who tells of the Polish immigrants of the 1990s in her book A Second Chance.
Immigrants are not just people from another country moving into a new, immigrants can also be people of one culture moving into a specific space from another place in the same country. Leslie Tate‘s interview with Marjorie Lazaro about her book A Person of Significance recounts her arrival in London in the 1950s and the discrimation she witnessed and encountered.
Turning the tables slightly, and as aluded to in my opening paragraph, it’s not only Britain going through an anti-immigrant/foreigner phase. Discrimination is deep-rooted and international – much of it based on ignorance of others and a fear of change. As much as literature highlights discrimination, so it also provides hope as ‘others’ come to know more about each other: John Samson’s Powerless is a prime example.
— Africa in Words (@AfricainWords) December 19, 2016
Novelist Saša Stanišiç provides an opinion on immigrant writing and the myths surrounding literary works by ‘others’. The title of his novel – How the soldier repairs the gramaphone has led to its addition to my reading list.
I leave the last words to Tom Robbins:
Our similarities bring us to a common ground; our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other. –Tom Robbins pic.twitter.com/yTModj6m5H
— Shoutout Network (@ShoutoutNetwork) 4 November 2016
Thanks Pablo for the image