Postcolonialism and ‘The Figure of the Jew’: Caryl Phillips and Zadie Smith

  • Bart Moore-Gilbert


Connections between Jewry and today’s postcolonial world can be traced back to the Roman dispersal of the Jews in AD 70. This led, for example, to the establishment of a Jewish community in Cochin within a few decades. Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique hand (1992) reminds us that by the Middle Ages there were well-established economic and cultural networks between the Mediterranean, Egypt and India, involving Jews and non-Jews. With successive expulsions from other European regions in later periods, Jewish refugees proliferated in the colonial world. Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh (1996) addresses the fate of Jews (and others) evicted from Spain in 1492, who found their way to regions as diverse as the Caribbean and India. South Africa received refugees from pogroms in Czarist territories in the late nineteenth century; and, as Caroline Link’s film Nowhere in Africa (2003) depicts, Kenya provided a haven for some Jews escaping the Nazis in the 1930s.


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For Further Reading

  1. For a hard copy list of the works of Caryl Phillips up to 2001, see Contemporary Novelists, ed. David Madden et al., 7th edn (New York: St James Press, 2001). For a more up-to-date list on the internet of the works of both Phillips and Smith, see the British Council website: <>.Google Scholar
  2. Cheyette, Bryan, ‘Venetian Spaces: Old-New Literatures and the Ambivalent Uses of Jewish History’, in Reading the ‘New Literatures’ in a Postcolonial Era, ed. S. Nasta (Cambridge: Brewer, 2000), pp. 53–72.Google Scholar
  3. Head, Dominic, ‘Zadie Smith’s White Teeth’, in Contemporary British Fiction, ed. R. Lane et al. (Cambridge: Polity, 2003), pp. 106–19.Google Scholar
  4. Ledent, Benedicte, Caryl Phillips (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  5. Smith, Zadie, ‘Love, Actually’, Guardian ‘Review’, 1 November 2003, 4–6.Google Scholar
  6. Squires, Claire, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (London: Continuum, 2002).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bart Moore-Gilbert 2005

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  • Bart Moore-Gilbert

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