is more enlightened 193 . . . How to Read a Novel . . . (Beloued). Outside fiction, race is such a hot-button issue that politicians and press will handle it only with pious platitudes ghd hair and hobbled correctness. Andrea Levy has obvious qualifications, other than her belatedly recognised talent, to join in the grown-up British debate on race. A young-middle-aged Briton of colour, she cannot remember the first, post-Windrush generation of Jamaican immigrants that her narrative deals with. But she can doubtless recall the ‘No coloureds’ cards put up by landlords in newsagents’ windows. She can certainly remember Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, to which she alluded in her prize-acceptance speeches. She would have been one of those ‘piccaninnies’ the politician referred to. I personally, like others of my generation, owe some initial instruction about the realities of race in Britain to Colin Maclnnes’s 1957 novel City ofSpades. Ignore the racist banalities on the paperback cover – interestingly reflective as they are of the unreconstructed attitudes of the time. With the acuity of the accomplished novelist, Maclnnes was far ahead of the newspapers, the pundits, his publishers and the bigot in the street (then virtually every white-skinned person). Maclnnes caught precisely the perverse nature of British prejudice as it was applied in the 1950s. As one of his black characters describes it: ‘Universal politeness, and universal coldness. Few love us, few hate us, but everybody wishes we are not here, and shows this to us by the correct standaway behaviour that is your great English secret.’ Despite the decade’s cultural emancipations, little changes fundamentally in the 1960s. There is a matching scene in Small Island where the hero, Gilbert, applies for a driver’s job (something his time in the RAF had trained him for). He and the personnel manager get on famously, reminiscing about 194 . . . Fiction -where the unspeakable can be spoken . . . their time in the service. Finally Gilbert asks, ‘Do I have the job?’ No, his still-smiling interviewer tells him, ‘You see, we have white women working here.’ Stand away, Gilbert, if you would be so kind. Small island’s winning of the Orange prize coincided, almost to the day, with Michael Howard, then leader of the opposition Tories, launching ‘immigration’ (euphemism for race) as his party’s big theme as they approached the 2005 General Election (which they lost). Race has simmered in the US continuously over the last decades, with sporadic eruptions such as the Rodney King riots and the OJ and MJ court cases. Newspapers, like politicians, touch the hot potato very nervously. Only the wholly unelectable, and wholly contemptible (Jean-Marie Le Pen, David Duke, the demagogues of the British National Party) play the race card. Novels, however, go where journos and politicos do not dare. Take, as a prime example, Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. (If you haven’t read the novel, or seen the film, register a spoiler alert and skip to the next section.) Roth’s narrative picks up on the end-of-career story of Coleman Silk, a Jewish professor of classics at a small, elite eastern seaboard university, Athena – one of the so ghd hair styler -called ‘potted Ivy League’ colleges. Silk was, as the novel puts it, ‘one ofa handful ofjews on the Athena faculty when he was hired [in the 1950s] and perhaps ghd flat iron among the first of the Jews permitted to teach in a classics department anywhere in America’. The persistence of institutionalized prejudice in America is one Ghd flat iron canada of the country’s better repressed memories. In the institution where I currently teach, on the ghd ceramic straighteners West Coast, I still meet retired professors who can recall not being able to live in the ghd pure vicinity of the university where they taught because the area was ‘restricted’ (that is, off limits to Jews and other undesirables). 195 . . Ghd canada . How to Read a Novel . . . Since the 1964 ghd straighteners uk Civil Rights Act, the former discriminatory practices of such institutions of higher learning (no blacks, Jews only on a quota system) have been rolled back. In Roth’s novel, it is now the late 1990s. But the bruises and raw spots, legacies of racism, survive, and suppurate poisonously – at least, in Roth’s diagnosis. Condoleezza Rice may not agree. Silk, on the verge of honourable retirement, comes into his class one day, halfway through a semester. As the narrative puts it: The class consisted of fourteen students. Coleman had taken attendance at the beginning of the first several lectures so as to learn their names. As there were still two names that failed to elicit a response by the fifth week into the semester, Coleman, in the sixth week, opened the session by asking ‘Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?’ As it happens, the absentee pair are African-American students. They are underperforming, it emerges, in all their classes – those classes that they bother to attend. The clear implication is that ghd mk4 they have only gained entrance to this élite institution by virtue of affirmative action so the college does not lose its federal funding on the grounds of discrimination. They should not be there. Silk has made a monumentally (but unintentionally) inappropriate remark. By ‘spooks’ he ghd hair straighteners meant, are they ‘ghosts’? ‘I had no idea what their colour might be’, he later protests, when hauled up for that most heinous of offences, political incorrectness on matters of race. The luckless professor of classics does not k ghd iv now, or does not remember, that ‘spook’ is ‘an invidious term also applied to blacks’. Unwittingly, he 196 . . . Fiction -where the unspeakable can be spoken . . . has publicly uttered something equivalent to: ‘Are they lazy niggers?’ He might as well have opened his fly and urinated over the front row of his class. Complications inevitably ensue. Silk, with only months to serve in a distinguished career, is hounded out of the profession he has so nobly served. His wife dies under the strain and humiliation. At the fulcrum of the story comes Roth’s bombshell surprise. Silk, it emerges, is not, after all, Jewish. Nor is he ghd hair white gentile. He is a light-skinned African- American. At the pivotal moment of his early career young Coleman (the name suddenly takes on significance ‘coal black man’) had the choice of i) becoming a professional boxer – something in which he excelled and for whose prizes, following the pioneering trails of the Brown Bomber, his race was newly eligible; or 2) taking advantage of his light skin to enter higher education as a tawny, curly-haired, too-cleverfor- his-own-good Jew. He chose the second. His stainless skin made it possible. But was he, the novel inquires, denying his humanity by taking that option? In The Human Stain, Roth confronts and
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