‘Trans-Cultural Exchange’: Reframing Historical Metanarratives in Ishtiyaq Shukri’s The Silent Minaret
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The following article considers how historical metanarratives are critiqued in The Silent Minaret (2005), a novel by South African author Ishtiyaq Shukri. With reference to Judith Butler’s (2009) notion of the frame and Kerwin Lee Klein’s (1995) understanding of historical metanarratives, this paper examines how Shukri’s protagonist, Issa Shamsuddin, a South African PhD student who vanishes inexplicably from London, attempts to uncover and expose the residual influence that historical forms of unaccountable state power have over contemporary manifestations of political authority. Moreover, this article argues that Issa – through both his interactions with other characters and the work done in his PhD thesis – draws out the inevitable connections that seemingly disparate cultures, religions and nations share. In doing so, he encourages the reader to recognise the ‘trans-cultural’ dimensions of human experience in order to challenge absolutist framings of recorded history.