Exploring the Theme of Immigration in World Literature

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The immigrant writers can be categories from nationality of author. The major immigrant literatures are contributed by the writers from Indigenous, English, French, Asian, African, Caribbean and European nation etc. The immigrant writers have mostly dealt with hyphenation experience in the host land. It has expressed deepest sense of diaspora perspectives in their writing. The diaspora writing reflects two set of contents. On hand, it deals with theme such as alienation, isolation, cultural assimilation, reservation and rights of the immigrant in the host land. But, at another hand, it deals with issues of home land such as political, colonial imprints, recreated history of homeland they had left. Black-Canadian notably writers are Austin Clarke, Dionne Brand and George Eliott Clarke. They thematize the resistivity of voices of their community. Japanese-Canadian Joy Kogawa’s Obasan deals with third generation identity of Japan and execution of Second World War. The other notable Japanese-Canadian writer Roy Miki’s poetry expresses her identity crisis of the host land. Ukrainian-Canadian writer Vera Lysenko’s Yellow Boots focused on the theme of cultural assimilation of the character Lili Landash into English Canadian population. The other Ukrainian-Canadian writer George Ryga’s Hungry Hills and Ballad of a Stonepicker and Andrew Suknaski’s Wook Mountain Poems express deepest sense of hyphenation and hybridization experiences in the immigrant land and successful assimilation to Canadian nation.

The notable Asian-Canadian writers are Shyman Selvadurai (Sri Lanka), M.G.Vassanji (Tanzania), Anita Rau Badami (India), Himani Bannerji (India), Cyril Dabydeen (Guyana) and Stephen Gill (India) in the Canadian literature. South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives are considered to be economically, politically developing nation. Most of the South Asian people dreamed to migrant to Canada because of its congenial and welcoming nature of the nation. Multiculturalism policy facilitates the mosaic culture in the nation but after their settlement of the migrant. They started to ruminate over history of past life in their home land due to un acculturation to the main stream of the nation. Hence, the present study attempts to examine the effect of implementation of multicultural policy on ethnic writers. Especially, it intends to deal with two South Asian-Canadian writers namely Rohinton Mistry and Michael Ondaatje who have renowned popularity in the Canadian Literature. Rohinton Mistry is from Indian origin and Michael Ondaatje is from Sri Lankan origin but, both the writers have acclaimed as double displacement history. Rohinton Mistry has claimed the identity of two nation; first his ancestral immigrant from Iran to India and Mistry’s immigration from India to Canada. In the similar way, Michael Ondaatje is also claimed the two identity of his nationality; first his parental immigration from India, (South Tamil Nadu) to Sri Lanka and his own immigrantion from Sri Lanka to Canada. The present study purports to analyses privilege of ethnic identity deliberate them to exposition of ethnic identity in their writing. Moreover, it is specified to scrutinize identity crisis and ethnic conflict as predicament of ethnic particularity in the select works of Rohinton Mistry and Michael Ondaatje. The novels Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995), Family Matters (2001) by Rohinton Mistry and Running in the Family (1982), In the Skin of a Lion (1987), Anil’s Ghost (2000) by Michael Ondaatje have taken for the purpose of analyzing the theme in specification.

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Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian writer. He belongs to the wave of first generation immigrants from South Asia. He was born on July 3, 1952 in Parsi Community of Bombay which is considered as India’s Multicultural city. Now, he resides in Canada as an Indo-Canadian of Parsi origin. He has finished his B.sc at St.Xavier’s College University of Bombay in 1975. After his marriage with Frency Elavia, he immigrated to Canada in 1975 along with his wife. Initially, he served as a bank employee. He secured a B.A degree in English and philosophy from the University of Toronto in the year 1984. He won prize for his short story ‘One Sunday’, in the Hart House Literary Contest in 1983. The following year, another short story ‘Auspicious Occasion’ got Hurt House Prize once again. Generally, Mistry’s writing reflects his experience of an immigration both in Canada and as well as his ancestral immigration to India. Moreover, he dealt some of issues such as issues of politics, Parsi community, cosmopolitanism, rural migration, caste system, economic inequality, religious orthodox and national events; MISA act, declaration of Emergency of Indira Gandhi in India, Bangladesh conflicts and Hindu-Muslim riots. Shaily Sharma remarks about Rohinton Mistry’s work as “establish him as writer of comparison and human understanding, which he derives from a fine balancing of the personal and the political, for the two inextricably affect the lives of not just the parsi in India, but any individual living in any part of the world” (92)

Rohinton Mistry rewards with many awards in recognition of his significant literary contribution. Tales from Firozsha Baag, 11 short stories collection was short listed in Hart House Literary. It had made foundation for his writing career. Later, it was republished with the name of Swimming Lessons and Other Stories form Firozsha Baag in America. It was also receptivity of other awards such as Magazine Annual Contributor and Governor General Award in 1998. The novel Such a Long Journey (1991) received Governor General Award and Common Wealth Writer’s Prize for best book. The following novel A Fine Balance (1995) won many awards such as Giller prize in the year 1995, Common Wealth writer prize in the year 1996 and also it won Los Angele Times book prize for fiction and shortlisted for 1996 booker prize. Family Matters (2001) won James Tait Black Memorial prize for fiction, Man Booker prize for fiction in the year 2002 and International IMPAC Dublin literary festival in the year 2004. He is one of the five recipients of exceptional contribution to public policy in the year 2004.

Micheal Ondaatje is a famous Sri Lankan born Canadian writer. He was born on 12 September 1943 in Sri Lanka. After his parents’ divorce, he moved to London along with his mother, brother, and sister. When he was nineteen, he immigrated to Canada where he joined with his brother, who was already living in Montreal. From 1962 to 1964, Ondaatje studied English and History at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. In 1964 he married Kim Jones, an artist and blessed with two children. He belongs to the Sri Lankan Burgher community which is mixtures of the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Sinhalese and Tamil ancestries. So he inherited several types of hybridities. He often deals his novel with diasporic experience, post-colonial issues.

The works of Michael Ondaatje are The English Patient (1992) centered on American melting pot ideology. The story had background of Italian Campaign and World War II with the genre of historiographic metafiction. Divisadero (2007) set in California with theme of family division. It received Governor General Award for English Fiction. Coming through Slaughter (1976) is fictionalized biography of Buddy Bolden, Jazz pioneer which based on real incident. WarLight (2018) dealt with story of the protagonist reminiscent of his childhood memory with inter text of miserable life of his mother. The Collected works of Billy the Kid (1970), poetry verse novel dealt with outlaw of protagonist. It is story of fight between Willam Bonney and Garrett and it express point of view of killer. Some of the notable poems are The Dainty Monsters, The Man with Seven Toes, Rat Jelly, Elimination Dance, The Cinnamon Peeler, Application for driving license and Notes for The Legend of Salad Woman. Ondaatje’s literary talent was acknowledged with prestigious awards. The Collected works of Billy the Kid received Governor General’s award. Anil’s Ghost won Giller prize in the year 2002. It gained other awards such as Prix Medicis, the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Irish Times International fiction prize in the year 2001, and Governor General’s award. The English Patient was the most remarkable work of Ondaatje’s writing career and it is recipient of various awards like the Booker prize, the Canada Australia prize and the Governor General’s award and also adapted as film. The novel In the Skin of a Lion won city of Toronto Book award, and got first Canada Reads Competitions in the year 2002. The novel Coming through Slaughter won Books in Canada first novel award in the year 1976. Divisadero won Governor General’s award.

Such a Long Journey (1991) set in Bombay, India. The story revolves around Gustad Nobel who belongs to Parsi Community. But, juxtaposition of narration was developed by political conspiracy and decision of demolishing compound wall of Khodadad building by municipality. The intensity of tension of the character Gustad was aroused by series of issues such as Roshan’s illness immediately after her birthday, Sohrab’s unwillingness to join in IIT, demand of Major Bilimoria’s 10 lakhs rupees in his bank and notice of demolishment of compound wall. Mistry mainly projects real political conspiracy of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s period and rumination over past glorious history of Parsi community in secular India. The writer tries to bring kaleidoscopic effects of political crisis and national conflicts of India to China and Pakistan which causes disturbance in peaceful existence of Parsi community who are basically emigrated from Iran to India. A Fine Balance (1995) set in the backdrop of emergence period declared by Indira Gandhi period. The novel began with convergences of Maneck, a student and two tailors; Ishvar and Omprakash in Dina Dalal’s Apartment in Mumbai city. The story divided into two parts; city and rural life of two tailors who belongs to low caste community. The writer focalized marginality of low caste in India. Unlike, the previous novel dealt with marginality of

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