Sara Suleri Goodyear, professor emeritus of English and author of Meatless Days, dies at 68


Best known for her groundbreaking memoirs of life in postcolonial Pakistan, the English professor is known for her dramatic personality and tendency to go against the grain.

Staff reporter

Yale News

Sara Suleri Goodyear, heralded by many as the preeminent Pakistani writer of her generation, died on Sunday March 20. She was 68 years old.

The Emeritus Professor of English joined the Yale faculty in 1983 majoring in Romantic and Victorian poetry. Through several important texts that remain classics of the class, Suleri established herself as a leading scholar of postcolonial studies – though she resisted this label for her oversimplifications. Suleri is remembered by colleagues in the department as a dramatic personality and a defiant scholar who spoke her mind and fearlessly confronted and criticized texts.

“Sara was never afraid to go against the grain: to say what she believed to be right, true and important, about literature, politics or life,” wrote Murray Biggs, professor semi-retired from English, theater and film. an e-mail to the news. “Academics are susceptible to being cornered by intellectual or philosophical categories. But Sara was impossible to classify.

Suleri died in Bellingham, Washington, where she lived with relatives after battling health issues for several decades. She is survived by two brothers and sisters as well as numerous nephews and nieces.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Suleri was the third of five children. His family, whose story Suleri recounts in his widely acclaimed memoir ‘Meatless Days’, divides his time between the UK and Pakistan, traveling frequently for his father ZA Suleri’s work as a journalist and activist at the forefront. plan. His Welsh mother, Mair Suleri, was a professor of English at the University of the Punjab in Lahore.

Suleri went on to study English Literature at Kinnaird College, Punjab University, and finally Indiana University, where she earned her Ph.D. After a brief stint at Williams College, Suleri came to Yale as a junior professor of English literature, teaching several seminars on British India. Suleri entered academia at a time when postcolonial studies increasingly leaned toward anti-Enlightenment ideas, but she was known to have a wry tolerance for the writings of British imperialists such as Rudyard Kipling and Edmund Burke.

Her charisma in class was carefully controlled, her colleagues remembered, and she spoke in a soft, even voice. Yet she leaned towards mischief: once, in front of a large lecture audience, she quietly tore a book to shreds to stunned applause.

“Over the decades, she has been the voice of startling and disturbing truths,” English teacher Leslie Brisman wrote to the News.

In 1989 Suleri published “Meatless Days”, an investigation linking tragic personal memories to the history of postcolonial Pakistan in nine semi-autobiographical accounts. His work has blurred the line between fiction and non-fiction, and often compressed or rearranged time periods.

“‘Meatless Days’ is such an extraordinary achievement that it is often beyond the ability of readers, critics and critics to calibrate or categorize it,” proclaims the book, “South Asian Novelists in English: An A-to-Z Guide”. “Few South Asian writers in English have produced such a distinctive idiom or density of thought and metaphor.”

In 1993 Suleri published “The Rhetoric of English India”, which is still a seminal text in postcolonial studies, along with a multitude of scholarly articles. That same year, Suleri married retail company executive Austin Goodyear, who died in 2008. Suleri was one of the founding editors of the Yale Critic’s Journal and also served as an advisor to the Yale Review. Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate for freedom of expression and has had an affinity for the writings of Salman Rushdie.

Later in his career, Suleri faced a number of health issues which limited his teaching and research activities. Still, she stayed in touch with her colleagues and continued to write, most recently co-writing “A Tribute to Ghalib: Twenty-One Ghazals Reinterpreted”, a translation and commentary of 17th-century poetry.

“The choice has to be made between saying ‘I can’t represent a culture’ or ‘Like it or not, I do,'” Suleri said during an appearance in a 1993 documentary, Cigarette Smoking. hand.

Suleri is expected to be buried in New Haven, with a memorial service held at a later date.


Isaac Yu writes about Yale faculty and scholars. He designs the front page of the print edition, edits News’ Instagram, and has previously covered transportation and city planning in New Haven. A native of Garland, Texas, he is a sophomore at Berkeley College majoring in American Studies.


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