Andrea Levy's 'World-Themed' Fiction: Curating the World Wars in Small Island and "Uriah's War"


Öztabak Avci E.

Ariel-A Review Of International English Literature, vol.53, no.1-2, pp.139-165, 2022 (Journal Indexed in AHCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 1-2
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1353/ari.2022.0006
  • Title of Journal : Ariel-A Review Of International English Literature
  • Page Numbers: pp.139-165

Abstract

The ways in which Andrea Levy's Small Island (2004) deals with the political, economic, and socio-cultural changes that occurred in British society in the aftermath of World War II have been widely discussed. Furthermore, many studies emphasize the novel's significant cultural work in rendering visible the contributions of the British Empire's black citizens in the Second World War. Yet Levy's approach to the imperialist and nationalist rhetoric around the World Wars has not received much attention. This essay explores this question by reading Small Island, specifically the scenes of encounter between white American and black British soldiers, together with "Uriah's War" (2014), a short story Levy wrote in the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. The short story takes place mostly on the Middle Eastern Front of World War I and describes a West Indian soldier's encounter with an Ottoman soldier, whom he calls "the savage Turk." Drawing on Rebecca Walkowitz's Born Translated (2015), this essay argues that both Small Island and "Uriah's War" can be classified as "world-themed" works of fiction in that they consider the World Wars using temporal and spatial comparative frameworks and offer a transnational and anti-imperialist reading of the alliances and animosities that emerged during and in the aftermath of the World Wars.