M Y Alam‘s paper ‘Identity politics and the conditions of production: Reflections on writing Short Stories’, which he recently presented at the 11th International Conference on the Short Story in English, has been published on route-online.com The paper takes a look at what lies behind the production of short stories, from both a writer’s and an academic standpoint. To support this, he offers an insight to ‘Getting laced’, his first short story, written as homework for English class at school and an examination of his story ‘Taxi Driver’ which features in the book Ideas Above Our Station. Here is a small extract from the paper.
‘The world makes you write what you write – but how you write, that’s down to your own neuroses and biases. I’m pretty sure most people realize this, or have a view of this kind of position. But this is especially relevant when it comes to writing that takes place in – and is of – political minorities. I use this term as a catch all means of referring to groups who may be in the numerical minority but also possess, significantly, less political power than those who belong to mainstream, centred and neutral positions. I guess I’m talking about what some would call ‘Others’ whether referring to sexuality, ethnicity or culture. In the British context, these deviants have often been foreign but not necessarily distant – the Irish, for example, were and arguably still are one of the most demonized of all ‘ethnic’ and religious groups. Throughout the course of the twentieth century, and even up to the present day, race has figured heavily in the British social imaginary and consciousness. Actually, race, ethnicity, culture or indeed those markers of identity which are more closely linked to faith and religion, appear to be significant throughout the contemporary global landscape. However, the British experience of Empire continues to permeate contemporary life for so called indigenous populations and for those who are of former migrant, former colonial, heritage. It is against this evolving backdrop that the utility of literature, and art in general – and the short story form in particular – is rendered a useful means through which issues pertaining to identity politics are presented, explored and offered to readers.’