“You Got a Thing about Prince?”: Worlding Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album
Keywords:worlding, Prince, Muslim fandom, pop culture in literature, Bildungsroman
While critics largely attribute the power and value of Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Black Album to its message about the nation, this essay reconsiders the novel’s transatlantic structure and depiction of Prince to understand its relevance for contemporary global cultural politics. Specifically, the essay adopts the capacious reading praxis of worlding to explain the racial and cultural logic that makes an American pop icon a necessary metaphor for British national belonging. Worlding defamiliarizes Prince as commodity and an embodiment of transcendent hybridity, morality, solidarity, or alterity, and instead suggests his capacity to consolidate (rather than dissipate) cultural capital, bourgeois class status, and heteronormativity. As such, Prince fandom underscores the emergent fault lines of class, religion, and sexuality and possibilities through which Muslims carve out fragile and uneasy national alliances. The essay’s delineation of British Asia’s imaginative and affective relationship with America charts new connections between Postcolonial Studies and American Studies.