Focusing on the work of black, diasporic writers in Canada, particularly Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, and Tessa McWatt, Blackening Canada investigates the manner in which literature can transform conceptions of nation and diaspora. Through a consideration of literary representation, public discourse, and the language of political protest, Paul Barrett argues that Canadian multiculturalism uniquely enables black diasporic writers to transform national literature and identity. These writers seize upon the ambiguities and tensions within Canadian discourses of nation to rewrite the nation from a black, diasporic perspective, converting exclusion from the national discourse into the impetus for their creative endeavours.
Within this context, Barrett suggests, debates over who counts as Canadian, the limits of tolerance, and the breaking points of Canadian multiculturalism serve not as signs of multiculturalism’s failure but as proof of both its vitality and of the unique challenges that black writing in Canada poses to multicultural politics and the nation itself.
‘Blackening Canada is an insightful addition to the discourse on critical multiculturalism. Barrett’s argument is interdisciplinary, critical, compelling and wide-ranging.’
‘Blackening Canada is an invaluable addition to black literary criticism and necessary reading for scholars working in the field.’
‘In this brilliant book, Barrett manages to confront important issues of race in Canada…. This is a volume for those interested in race and multiculturalism anywhere, not Just in Canada. Highly recommended.’