The Empire Within Yi Sang’s global poetry.
About the Article
- The Nation
- Issued Date
- May 03, 2021
- UNITED STATES
- Yi Sang , Lee Sunsin
Not long after the publication and surprise success of her first novel, The God of Small Things, in 1997, Arundhati Roy was invited onto a live radio show in London. The appearance did not go to plan. As she recalled in a 2018 lecture: The other guest was an English historian who, in reply to a question from the interviewer, composed a paean to British imperialism. “Even you,” he said, turning to me imperiously, “the very fact that you write in English is a tribute to the British Empire.” Not being used to radio shows at the time, I stayed quiet for a while, as a well-behaved recently civilized savage should. But then I sort of lost it, and said some extremely hurtful things. The historian was upset, and after the show told me that he had meant what he said as a compliment, because he loved my book. I asked him if he also felt that jazz, the blues, and all African American writing and poetry were actually a tribute to slavery. And whether all of Latin American literature was a tribute to Spanish and Portuguese colonialism.
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