Savitskaya, Anna (2022):
"Ethnic Conflicts and the Power of Collective identity in Guy Gunaratne's In Our Mad and Furious City (2018)." Literature Compass 19.12
Journal Article

Abstract Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2018 and winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2019, Guy Gunaratne's debut novel, In Our Mad and Furious City (2018), depicts a cultural conflict unfolding in contemporary London. Set off as the result of a killing of a white soldier by a black Muslim boy, violent riots force Yusuf, a son of immigrants from Pakistan, to recognise his migrant background and question his sense of self and belonging in the city. At the same time, for Nelson and Caroline, immigrants of a different time, the events evoke the memories of the past that haunts them and prove that the cultural divide they witnessed decades ago still prevails. By following the narratives of these characters and depicting violent ethnic clashes, the novel captures the driving forces of blind ethnic brutality on the one hand and the loss of a meaningful sense of self on the other. Drawing on Vamik Volkan's studies on large‐group psychology and collective trauma, this article analyses the power of the collective identity—be it a nation, an ethnicity, or a religious movement—in times of crisis and examines its influence on a personal sense of self. In Our Mad and Furious City illustrates the many ways in which the impact of the shared cultural identity not only generates cultural conflicts but can also lead to displacement and identity crises. This article explores the intricate ways in which Gunaratne's transcultural narrative depicts these age‐old yet contemporary issues.