"Where has our country gone?" Reading The Last Word after Brexit

2017-12-06T10:02:44Z (GMT) by Clelia Clini
The Last Word (2014) is the first novel written by Hanif Kureishi not being set in London but in the English countryside. While the main focus of the novel is the antagonistic relationship between the famous Indian writer Mamoon and his biographer Harry, the context of deprivation within which Mamoon’s mansion is located speaks of what Kureishi himself called a “big break in Britain, between London and the rest of the country” (2014). This paper will precisely focus on the novel’s description of this “break” within the country and relate it to the outcome of the recent “Brexit” referendum. In particular, through references to earlier novels by the same author and an interview I conducted with him in 2014, the analysis will focus on Kureishi’s take on multiculturalism and the contemporary social and political situation of Britain. What dynamics of power regulate social relationships? Who is included and who is excluded? In addressing these questions, the paper will also address the emergence of “post-multiculturalism” discourses and the backlash against multiculturalism in Europe (Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2010).