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Julian Samuel jjsamuel at aei.ca
Thu Aug 29 11:14:35 MDT 1996


>Julian, we received your essay on Quebec nationalism and we are looking
>forward to anything that trashes "cultural studies". This list is a haven
>for everybody who hates anything with a prefix "post". Welcome aboard.
>
>Louis
>


Fiction:  PASSAGE TO LAHORE by Julian Samuel

The Mercury Press
137 Birmingham Street
Stratford
Ontario
N5A 2T1
fax 519 273 7932 (ISBN 1-55128-024-8)=20

" Passage to Lahore is a no-holds-barred telling of the Pakistani-Canadian-
British-Indian-Qu=E9becois experience, challenging conventional history with=
=20
frequent outbreaks of scathing satire. Fractious, erudite, and raunchy,=20
Samuel's narrative takes us from Montr=E9al to Lahore to Algeria to Hong=20
Kong to China to Surrey, in search of ways to comically damage the suicidal=
=20
sterility of The Correct and of the tribal debates raging today.
.....................

A Book Review, The Montreal Gazette, 9 December, 1995

Master of Tongue-Fu

Restless author wanders from the Main to Pakistan

By Carol M. Davison

In her introduction to Mae West's recently republished 1930s novel The=20
Constant Sisnner, Kathy Lette describes West as "a black belt in the art of=
=20
tongue-fu," a woman capable of "barbecuing entire herds of sacred cows."=20
On the basis of his recent novel Passage to Lahore, the same abilities=
 should=20
be attributed to Julian Samuel.

A well-travelled, Pakistan-born, Montreal-based film-maker, writer, artist=
=20
and self-proclaimed "left-intellectual" who never tries of reminding his=20
readers (in a rather nettled a way) that he lives from welfare cheque to=
 arts=20
grant, Samuel is a male version of  Camille Paglia.

Although billed as a novel, Passage to Lahore is best classified as a series=
 of=20
poetic, provocative and politically focused travelogue pieces set everywhere=
=20
>from the Montreal Main to a Frantz Fanon conference in Algeria, a roof party=
=20
in Hong Kong and a small restaurant in Pakistan where the menu reads,=20
"Political discussions and drinking strictly forbidden."

On the issue of Quebec separatism, Samuel offers several scathingly=20
articulate chapters that expose what he calls the racist undercurrents and=
=20
farcical manipulations of liberation rhetoric. Here's a 1985 pronouncement:
The Qu=E9b=E9cois regimes, especially the one in power now, are an=
 allegorical=20
equivalent of many middle-class mimic-Western regimes in Third-World=20
countries: lots of Mercedes parked out in front of renovated houses, little=
=20
substance, little vision, no courageous debates in the press, lots of=20
technocratic types running the show and doing what can only be called anti-
thinking."

An unusual blend of literary styles -- there are some gorgeously sensual=20
passages about Samuel's childhood and travels alongside a few comic mini-
film scripts and a recipe for curried lamb -- Passage to Lahore is an often=
=20
irreverent romp through the immaculate tulip gardens of political=
 correctness,=20
punctuated by exquisite nutshell portraits of the mid-1980's Montreal scene.

Take this vignette of Park Ave (reviewer means Saint Laurent--js): "This=20
general area, once a more Portuguese neighbourhood, has been transformed=20
into a neighbourhood of artists, humourless ecologists, and women who=20
publish illustrated theories on female ejaculation."

After all is vilified and undone, however, Samuel manages to barbecue=20
himself, his most sacred cow. His self-portrait, by way of describing a Hong=
=20
Kong friend, is damming: she loves art, books, visible minorities, animal=20
rights, holidays in the Southern hemisphere, armed liberation movements,=20
save-the-elephant-tusks clubs, kids -- all the things that left-wing=20
intellectuals like me like." And for someone who insists on the seriousness=
=20
of racial politics, he constantly undermines the importance of gender=
 politics.=20
Feminists are never taken seriously. They are simply more challenging to=20
bed.

At a guaranteed one guffaw per page, Passage to Lahore is nonetheless a=20
must read for the politically thoughtful. I guess that rules out my idea of=
=20
sending a copy to Jacques Parizeau for Christmas.

Passage to Lahore, by Julian Samuel (Mercury, 240 pp.,)
...............

Hungry Mind Review

An Independent Book Review

Passage to Lahore=20
By Julian Samuel
The Mercury Press=20
232 pages, $15.95p

	Julian Samuel, a Canadian documentary film-maker, originally from Pakistan,
has written a novel that seems more like a memoir. The first person narrator
is named Julian, and seemingly shares all the author's biography as given on
the book jacket and in the acknowledgments.  Julian, the fictional persona,
takes us on a bohemian tour; we meet all sorts of engaging characters,
mostly Third World immigrants in Canada. When Mr. Samuel describes the
characters, rather than Julian's self-obsessions, the book reminds me of
Down and Out in Paris and London. In parts it's even more engaging than
Orwell's book--less puritanical with its street language, raunchy
descriptions, and even explicit sex.p
	Julian treats us to his witty, incisive analyses of Canadian, American, and
British racism. However, he is not a priest of political correctness; he
describes multicultural fashions at North American universities as
"visionless, inane, careerist, postmodernist prattle." Talking about a
department head who tries to appear politically correct, he says, "He makes
his ugly-tasting white-man's curries."p
	Julian puts down Westerners who try to analyze Asian cultures, like Gunter
Grass, whose articles on Calcutta "read like that of one of those=20
short-sighted Western thinkers, a little like V. S. Naipaul, who did not do
much to educate themselves on the real reasons for the ravage of this city
and this part of the world." Julian has the impression that he is
enlightened to analyze the West, the East, and anything under the sun, while
he castigates most other people's--especially Westerners'--attempting to do
likewise.p
	Julian's wit depends on the mastery of the put-down. Describing a Montreal
neighborhood, he says, "This general area . . . has been transformed into a
neighborhood of artists, humorless ecologists, and women who publish
illustrated theories of female ejaculation."p
	Julian has strong opinions. For example: "Of course one could write tons of
books on narrow-minded nationalisms, but they do not deserve the exposure."
Considering what has been happening in  Bosnia, it's easy to disagree. If
more people had understood the narrow-minded nationalisms in these regions,
a lot of bloodshed might been prevented.p
	Julian occasionally compensates for his haughty tone by making fun of
himself and his "dull life as a grant seeker in the second largest bilingual
city in the world." However, he does not remain self-critical for long. His
failure to get enough grants is another proof of how dull and narrow Canada
is. This is how he reacts to a rejection: "She refused my project, accepted
the curry recipe, and accepted the mild criticism of her culture with its
redundant films on the sex lives of a few narrow-minded professors, their
wives, and homophobic assholes."p
	The repetitive travelogues--Montreal, England, Lahore, Algeria, Calcutta,
etc.--that comprise the book's chapters are not well connected. The main
character does not have a coherent project to give unity to these chapters.
And the raunchy aspect gets old: by the end of nearly every chapter, Julian
abandons his post-colonial struggles in order to chase women. Despite many
excellent anecdotes and brilliant moments, the novel bogs down in too many
scenes, scatological details, and secondary characters rendered in the loose
fashion of a travel journal.p

--Josip Novakovich

...........

Basic information on my recent documetaries:

1=20

The Raft of the Medusa: Five voices on colonies, nations and histories

by Julian Samuel,=20

in English and French, 99 minutes,=20
(1993)

A video documentary on the Orient in intellectual history.

Contemporary and historical views are analyzed by Amin Maalouf, (L=E9on
L'African); Thierry Hentsch, (Imagining the Middle East); Sara Suleri, (The
Rhetoric of English India); Nourbese Philip, (Looking for Livingstone,
Frontiers) and Ackbar Abbas, commentator on Walter Benjamin and Hong Kong
cinema.

Extended interviews address issues of emergent nationalism; (British India
and its partition in 1947); the unique case of Hong Kong as it faces
integration with mainland China; Occidental modernism and Islamic
fundamentalism.

*

2

Into The European Mirror

a video tape by Julian Samuel,=20
56 minutes, English version, all formats, (1994)

A documentary on political and imaginary frontiers...the expulsions and
resistance in Spain 1492, and in Palestine 1993; questions of historical
euro-nationalism are set in the Alhambra - last Moslem fortress in Europe...
the fall of the Caliphate of Granada coincides with Columbus's crossing.

Interviews with Homi Bhabha (Nation and Narration), Chris Giannou (A
Doctor's Story of Life and Death in Beirut); Thierry Hentsch, (Imagining the=
=20
Middle East); and Rana Kabbani (Letter to Christendom).

*

3

City of the Dead and The World Exhibitions
76:00 minutes, (1995), (architecture, beliefs and monuments)

is the concluding part of Julian Samuel's video documentary trilogy on the
relationship between the West and Islamic and Third Worlds.

This part looks at the rise of fundamentalism, the role of architecture in
gender segregation in the historical and contemporary Islamic city, British
and French laws of dispossession; the influence of the turn-of-the-century
World Exhibitions in creating a picture of the Orient, and terrorism in
contemporary Egypt. The work features interviews with Janet Abu-Lughod
(Before European Hegemony, The World System AD 1250-1350); Akbar S. Ahmad,
(Postmodernism and Islam); Hussien Ahmed Amin (Egyptian ex-ambassador to
Algeria); Edwar Al-Kharrat, (The Girls of Alexandria); Max Rodenbeck (Egypt
>From the Air); Timothy Mitchell (Colonising Egypt).

............

Books:

1.Lone Ranger in Pakistan -- email address above=20

2. The Raft of the Medusa (with Joceylne Doray). Order from: Black Rose
Books, 1993. C.P. 1258 Succ. Place du Parc, Montreal, CANADA H2W 2R3; phone;
514 844-4076

3. Forthcoming: French version of Passage (Les Editions Balzac), translated
by Jocelyne Doray;=20

4. Forthcoming: A book on Into to European Mirror, editors: Aruna Handa and
John Kiphoff, Black Rose Books, Fall 1996. Order from: Black Rose Books,
1993. C.P. 1258 Succ. Place du Parc, Montreal, CANADA H2W 2R3; phone; 514
844-4076


5. PUBLIC, 14 --  Quebecois Nationalism: a debate with Fred Reed, 1996.

end=20



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