The Pros And Cons Of Postcolonial Literature

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If challenging the coloniser’s literary canon is very common in postcolonial writing, the question whether to use the language of one’s oppressor for the postcolonial literature is a more complicated one. The grounding debate on this question between Indian author Salman Rushdie and Kenyan scholar Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o can illuminate the post-Soviet case of Zherebtsova’s novel. Rushdie believes that postcolonial writers can and must freely work in the coloniser’s language. For him, “English is an Indian literary language” (Rushdie 370) and to use it by an Indian author is the very way to overcome the colonial past: if the “peoples who were once colonised by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it” (Rushdie 369), it stops being owned solely by the coloniser, and can be used for a dialogue with him or a fight against him. However, for wa Thiong’o, “English is not an African language”, and priority must be given to national languages (wa Thiong 'o 367). Otherwise, the center of the newly emerged literary system will be occupied by the euro-centric literature.

Even though Zherebtsova did not have to make a choice between Russian or Chechen language for her writings (she knows only Russian), in Tonkaya Serebristaya Nit’ we are able to see that she undertook an attempt to appropriate the colonisers’ language in a way Rushdie has argued for that. In the chapter Orel, Zherebtsova draws a story of a Russian commander, who came to a Chechen wood crafter and asked to

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