From Diasporic Sensibility to Close Transnationalism

The Ag├╝ero Sisters, The Dew Breaker and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Authored by: Kezia Page

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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In the trio of novels, Christina Garcia’s The Agüero Sisters (1997), Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker (2004), and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), there is an emblematic shift in Caribbean literature to a diasporic sensibility and what I term a close transnationalism. By diasporic sensibility I mean to signal how Caribbean people have scattered to geographic spaces outside of the region and seeded Caribbean culture in these spaces often radically transforming them. I want to note here that not all diasporic spaces are located in metropolitan centres, but Garcia, Danticat and Diaz’s novels are connected by their representation of Caribbean experience in metropolitan locations in North America. I find Curdella Forbes’s ideas on the diasporic, on disaporic thought and on the diasporic text very useful here: ‘ “the diasporic” refers to the metropole and the experiences and environment it produces for Caribbeans in diaspora. “Diasporic thought” and “diasporic text”, however, are distinguished from these blanket designations, as I use the two terms to indicate a celebratory attitude to diaspora, which is opposed to an attitude of mourning and loss. “Diasporic” in this sense is the antithesis of “exile” or “exilic consciousness”’ (Forbes 2005: 230). Exilic consciousness is what Andrew Gurr privileges in Writers in Exile when he argues that, ‘exile … anticipates the loss by the community as a whole of identity, a sense of history, a sense of home’ (Gurr 1981: 14). In the texts I discuss here, I want to suggest that the celebratory attitude that Forbes indicates defines the diasporic text, does not figure as a textual hurrah for the diasporic space, but rather celebration is understood/performed as an acceptance of the migrant space with all of its problems and difficulties. The diasporic space then is not in dispute as a new ‘home space’; there is a taken-for-grantedness that the metropolitan space is now home.

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