Complicit refugees, cosmopolitans and xenophobia: Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' and Romesh Gunesekera's 'Reef' in conversation with texts on xenophobia in South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 10
  • Abstract:

    In the aftermath of the brutal xenophobic attacks in parts of South Africa against 'other' Africans between March and May this year, a fairly sustained (if repetitive) public debate has emerged in the local press. The aim is to extend this discussion to South African literary production and to stories from elsewhere - in this case, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The distinction between complicit refugees and cosmopolitans draws on some of the arguments of Mark Saunders and Anthony Appiah as a framework for comparing Hosseini s popular 'The Kite Runner' (2003) and Gunsekera's lyrical 'Reef' (1994). These will be read in relation to K. Sella Duiker's 'Thirteen Cents' (2000). Establishing a 'conversation' between these texts is associated (from Appiah) with calls/or re-thinking terms such as citizen and cosmopolitan. This, in turn. has implications for the current expressions of and about, xenophobia in South Africa.