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Rowena's Reviews

My true loves: Wilkie Collins, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anais Nin, George Eliot, James Joyce, James Baldwin, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, bell hooks, Chinua Achebe, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare... I'm falling for : Italo Calvino, Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon, Wole Soyinka, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Camus, Margaret Atwood, Somerset Maugham, Junot Diaz, A.S. Byatt... And the lists continue to grow! I will read almost anything, as long as it's well-written. I always love to expand my reading horizons.

Currently reading

Orientalism
Edward W. Said
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Finnegans Wake (Trade Paperback)
James Joyce

Selling Illusions

Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada - Neil Bissoondath

“And few silences are as loaded in this country as the one encasing the cult that has grown up around our policy of multiculturalism.” - Neil Bissooondath, Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada

Well, this was a very controversial book, one I’m sure not everyone will like but it speaks a lot of truth, in my opinion. I came across the author while researching a paper on pluralism in Canada during my undergrad. Canada has a policy on multiculturalism, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1971, (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/multicul...) but according to the author, the policy, despite being one of Canada’s selling points , does next to nothing for real social cohesion in the country.

Bissoondath is definitely an ideal person to write this book; a Trinidadian-born Canadian of Indian heritage living in Quebec. The autobiographical element of the book resonated with me. The introduction to Canada’s race relations is important because it’s something that’s not talked about (see Chinese head tax, the Komagata Maru Incident, Native Canadian history, etc.). Despite this, I actually do not see the modern-day racism that Bissoondath talks about so vehemently.

I did like that Bissoondath challenged my thinking in several ways. His views on cultural appropriation and affirmative actions were enlightening. I also like that he felt he had to critique the multiculturalism policy. As he said, “No policy can be written in stone; no policy is immune to evolution.”

It's too late to say I hope that nobody calls Bissoondath anti-Canadian, as it has already been done numerous times. I find that quite unfortunate as he is simply challenging people to think critically. Yes, we are proud of our mosaic society in Canada but it doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the government using that to further their own ends. (See BC Premier Christy Clark's ethnic votes scandal http://www.news1130.com/2013/02/28/ch...)

Great book for anyone interested in diversity issues.