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British Asian FictionTwenty-first Century Voices$
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Sara Upstone

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078323

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078323.001.0001

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Meera Syal

Meera Syal

(p.120) 6 Meera Syal
British Asian Fiction

Sara Upstone

Manchester University Press

In the wake of the rise of ‘Asian cool’, the desire to meet the image of a confident, self-assured British Asian identity is overwhelming. As the most ‘funny’ British Asian voice, best known for her roles in the BBC comedy series Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at Number 42, Meera Syal might be seen to play into this demand. This chapter, however, suggests the very opposite: Syal's comedy, rather than a mark of newfound confidence, is instead a device used to challenge the prevailing mood of optimism with a stark warning of the continued difficulties of being not only British Asian, but a British Asian woman especially. Marketing of both Syal's first novel, Anita and Me (1996), and its follow-up, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee (1999), identifies her with the ‘funny’ public image developed through her television work. Syal's use of comedy is more significant for its engagement with the broader conventions of this genre than for its evocation of humour.

Keywords:   Meera Syal, Asian cool, British Asian, identity, comedy, humour, Anita and Me, television

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