Rethinking hybridity: interrelation between hybridity and narrative technique, style and strategy in The Buddha of Suburbia and White Teeth

Esmahan Karakus

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The aim of this dissertation is to investigate how the concept of hybridity is manifested in Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Buddha of Suburbia from 1990 and Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth from 2000. The main approach is a postcolonial and comparative reading of the novels. The theoretical outlook is based on Homi Bhabha’s concept and definition of hybridity and mimicry. This will not be studied in a separate chapter but applied in the analysis when relevant. His ideas will be supported by those of Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy who have points that can shed light on some of the concerns in the novels. The main hypothesis that has formed the entire idea behind this study and started this academic process is the presumption that the authors portray and discuss the concept of hybridity differently. Smith operates with an omniscient narrator that provides more satirical commentaries and nuances than Kureishi’s protagonist and narrator, Karim, is able to. Her narrative technique that is strategically applied in the novel signals a much deeper and freer approach to the key concerns being discussed. This dissertation, hence, aims to investigate how one can work with the interrelation between hybridity and areas within narratology in order to gain a deeper understanding of the concept, the characters and the closely linked discussion about multiculturalism. I draw on Genette’s concept of voice and focalization and Chatman’s concept of implied author to investigate the ideological function of the narrator and how this frames the entire concept of hybridity and discussion of multiculturalism. This chapter takes Smith’s novel as its focus due to the presumption that she operates with a subtle narrator that is more complex and strategic than the one that appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. It is the different technical choices that have been made that mark the biggest difference between the two novels. To provide meaningful answers to the problem formulation the analysis has been divided into three chapters that examine the following areas. Firstly, how hybridity is manifested through Karim in The Buddha of Suburbia and Irie in White Teeth. The subsequent chapter examines how the narrator’s intrusive voice, use of irony and ideological function provide important nuances and tools that frame the portrayal of the hybrid characters and the entire discussion about multiculturalism and diversity. This chapter takes Smith’s novel as its prime focus. Lastly, the dissertation looks at the sort of challenges Kureishi faced as one of the first British-born Asian writer giving a voice to the Asian community. The time span between them seems to mark a development in the field of representation and postcolonialism as Smith seems to be more unconcerned with political correctness than Kureishi who was the first British-born writer with an Asian descent to represent Asians in literature and films. Thus, expectations of him at the end of the ‘80s and the beginning of the ‘90s have most likely been higher than those of Smith. However, due to his controversial themes Kureishi has faced massive challenges as a writer as the Asian community disliked his depiction of Asians stating that they were offensive. Naturally, such challenges that both Kureishi and Rushdie have faced has paved the way for Smith as the concerns and themes she brings up are virtually no longer news. Thereby, Smith seems to be able to challenge the multicultural reality of the nation with much more depth and irony.

UddannelserEngelsk, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 jun. 2016
VejledereEbbe Klitgård


  • Multiculturalism
  • Contemporary British Fiction
  • Narratology
  • Political correctness
  • The Buddha of Suburbia
  • Literature
  • Focalization
  • Hanif Kureishi
  • Bhabha
  • Stuart Hall
  • Postcolonialism
  • Interrelation between hybridity and narratology
  • White Teeth
  • Zadie Smith
  • Hybridity
  • Voice