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Remains
a coda
Flavor of my infancy, my mother, still be food: I want
my hunger as it always was, neither flesh nor fowl!

Meatless Days, 160
From its title on, Meatless Days elaborates a phenomenology of postcolo-
nial encounter and relationship through cooking and eating. Inescapably
enmeshed in violence, eating in some instances takes the familiar (and
familiarly gendered) form of predation. Thus Suleri’s father, a devotee of
the idea of Pakistani nationhood and a chronicler of o≈cial discourse, is
a ‘‘consumer of context,’’ whose ‘‘eating . . . up alive’’ of inconvenient
historical and personal details in the service of his patriotic and journalis-
tic work situates him firmly, if sometimes absurdly, within a cannibal
economy of victimization. ‘‘[No] audience that came his way departed
without feeling slightly stripped,’’ says Suleri, the daughter, of his acts of
simultaneous incorporation and purgation.
If the father’s cannibalism partakes of a customary metaphoric logic,
much else in Suleri’s text is devoted to the question of what it might mean
to think cannibalism both literally and metaphorically. There is an ex-
traordinary literalism to the way in which food functions in the novel—
the kapura parable of the preceding chapter is a vivid instance of this—and
the obstinacy with which it refuses to sequester itself in a purely meta-
phoric or allegorical realm or to subordinate itself to a world of abstrac-
tions. Thus the kapura (or the pancreas, or the kidney, or the mother’s
breast) is both word and flesh, to be spoken as well as eaten. We all begin,
Suleri says, as cannibals, feeding upon our mothers’ bodies inside and
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