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Cosmopolitan Literary Cities and Hybrid Identities – A Graduate Student Explores Imraan Coovadia’s Work

Imraan Coovadia was the subject of a graduate student’s research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Tales of the Metric SystemTransformationsThe Institute for Taxi PoetryGreen-Eyed Thieves

Alan Muller completed his Masters in Arts degree cum laude in 2014 on the life and work of the author of Tales of the Metric System, Transformations: Essays, The Institute for Taxi Poetry and Green-Eyed Thieves.

In an interview with UKZN News, Muller says that meeting the author in person was the highlight of his research and explains why he was drawn to Coovadia as subject matter: “The combination of pleasure I got from reading his novels and the gap in the academic ‘market’ prompted me to pursue the topic.”

Muller explored issues of race, place and identity in Coovadia’s body of work which can be labelled as post-transitional texts:

Using selected theories of space, place, and identity, Muller suggests that the novels under discussion reflect an era of globalisation, interconnectedness, and hybridity through the construction of cosmopolitan literary cities and the hybrid identities which inhabit them.

He argues that his works can be tentatively labelled as post-transitional texts that strive to craft connections rather than to construct self-isolating communities and characters seen in South African texts such as Richard Rive’s Buckingham Palace, District Six (1986), Aziz Hassim’s The Lotus People (2003), and Phyllis Naidoo’s Footprints in Grey Street (2002).

Speaking about the highlights of his research, Muller said he was able to present at two conferences: the first annual Postcolonial Narrations postgraduate forum at the University of Göttingen in October 2013 and the ALA Conference hosted by Wits University in April 2014.

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