Story-telling as an antidote to disempowerment
Hand, Felicity (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Filologia Anglesa i de Germanística)

Data: 2007
Resum: British-Zanzibari author, Abdulrazak Gurnah, author of seven published novels, seems to have a penchant for liars and cheats. The narrator of his fifth work, Admiring Silence, (1996), deceives his English partner and his family in Zanzibar. Saleh Omar in By the Sea (2001) masquerades as an asylum seeker. Rashid, the unexpected narrator of Gurnah's latest novel, Desertion (2005), reconstructs a forbidden love story from scraps of gossip and scandal as a way to come to terms with his own sensations of loss and failure. These three characters all find their way to England where they gradually sink into a mire of pity and self-loathing cowardice. They only redeem themselves through story-telling, which acts as an antidote to their own disempowerment. Story-telling therefore can be seen as a kind of counter-history to those fictional colonial accounts of their homeland. It also becomes a therapy to rationalise and counteract the displacement and alienation they experience in their country of adoption. In this paper I aim to show how Gurnah's use of orality in these three novels imbues his migrants with the power to create their own pasts, and in the case of Rashid, the secret past of others. In this way they become agents of their own subjectivity, unlike Rushdie's immigrants in The Satanic Verses who "succumb to the pictures they construct [of them]" (1988:168). I will also argue that Abdulrazak Gurnah's diasporic subjects resort to story-telling as a survival tactic not only amidst unwelcoming surroundings but, more importantly, to compensate for their own inadequacies and frustrations.
Drets: Tots els drets reservats.
Llengua: Anglès
Document: Article ; recerca ; Versió publicada
Publicat a: Afroeuropa: Journal of Afroeuropean Studies, Vol. 1, Núm. 1 (2007) , p. 0-00, ISSN 1887-3456

13 p, 52.2 KB

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