Shyam Selvadurai’s edited collection Story-Wallah! is a self proclaimed “celebration of South Asian fiction,” and there is little room to doubt that this is most definitely a celebration. The collection begins with a personal essay by Selvadurai which discusses his position within the South Asian diaspora, explores his writing in terms of his national identity, presents a brief overview of the history of the South Asian diaspora, and finally introduces the fiction that is to be found within his collection. In discussing the ways in which he identifies his writing, Selvadurai insightfully states that his writerly persona can be found in “that marvellous open space represented by the hyphen” between his two national identities of Sri Lankan and Canadian; to do otherwise, he says, would be “disingenuous” (1). This is not to say, however, that Selvadurai does not recognize the potential for conflict that also exists within the hyphen: “In my day-to-day interactions with the world outside, I share [with other people of colour an] irritation, [a] burden, [an] occasional danger of [my] visible otherness” (2). Inherent in Selvadurai’s embracing his position within the diaspora, then, is a realization that Canada’s ideal of multuculturalism is not necessarily embodied by all of its inhabitants, and that racism still remains in the Canadian state. This racism is not purely physical, either. The term most often used to speak of those within the diaspora is “immigrant” which, as Selvadurai points out, focuses “on the act of arrival” and, rhetorically, gives the impression that one “is a perpetual newcomer, a perpetual outside” (5). The immigrant story is thus one of constant arrival, one which refuses to integrate the newcomer into the social imaginary of the nation state. Diasporic identification, alternately, allows for cultural mingling and the formation of new identities based on “cultural mingling” (5). This being said, Selvadurai recognizes, as do scholars such as Mariam Pirbhai, that the term “South Asian diaspora” is insufficient in describing the multiplicity of national identities – e.g. Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc. – which it supposedly captures. Additionally, the history of different groups within the diaspora is extremely disparate, with some members carrying a legacy of indentureship and territorial dispossession – such as the indentured South Asian workers following the abolition of slavery or the fracturing of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan following partition in 1947 as well as the subsequent splitting of Pakistan which resulted in the creation of Bangledash as a nation – while other groups migrated later, into the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, for economic gains. It is perhaps because of these disparate histories and the vastness of the territory which is included in the diaspora that little fiction from the South Asian diaspora is anthologized, and Selvadurai’s collection is certainly a step towards giving South Asian fiction the attention it deserves. 

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