Meera Syal’s “The Traveller”: Its Feminist Allegory and Later Echoes

  • Noemí Pereira-Ares Universidade da Coruña

Abstract

Committed to the exploration of the female experience—specifically the South Asian female experience—Meera Syal has often woven a feminist subtext into the fabric of her works. This is probably nowhere more evident than in “The Traveller” (1988), an allegorical short story that constitutes Syal’s more sustained effort to produce a feminist text per se. However, whereas Syal’s novels and screenplays have been accorded considerable critical attention, “The Traveller” has been largely overlooked. This article aims to help rectify this imbalance by reassessing the importance of this text within Syal’s oeuvre. Drawing on feminist discourse, it also provides a detailed analysis of the story, unveiling and examining its feminist allegory. As I contend, “The Traveller” provides a critique of the universalising tendencies at the core of much Western feminism, whilst also enunciating the coming into being of Black British feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. This notwithstanding, through the figure of the “traveller,” a strong metaphor throughout, Syal’s story also creates common ground, highlighting the need to recognise both differences and commonalities and to build bridges amongst South Asian women living at both ends of the East-West divide.

Author Biography

Noemí Pereira-Ares, Universidade da Coruña
Noemí Pereira-Ares lectures at the University of A Coruña. Her research interests include diaspora and migrant literature(s) in English, fashion theory and the sociological study of dress in literature. Her work has appeared in international peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Postcolonial Writing and The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, and her book publications include Fashion, Dress and Identity in the Narratives of the South Asian Diaspora: From the Eighteenth Century to Monica Ali (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

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Published
2020-06-26
Section
Articles