Risk, resistance, and memory in two narratives by Asian women

Authored by: Chitra Sankaran

Routledge Handbook of Ecocriticism and Environmental Communication

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138053137
eBook ISBN: 9781315167343
Adobe ISBN:


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In the two texts I compare, the risks that Asian women routinely face, their vulnerabilities, and their resilience are foregrounded. Wave: A Memoir of Life after the Tsunami by Sonali Deraniyagala from Sri Lanka (2013) and “Lake” (2010) by the Indonesian writer Lily Yulianti Farid, which links the sudden disappearance of Lake Beloye in Central Russia with the disappearance of the narrator’s sister, Fayza, in Jakarta, are two narratives that link natural disasters with cultural predicaments in interesting ways. In both these texts, the protagonists are grappling with deep personal tragedies. They share an approach in responding to risk through resistance and memory, though doing so in different ways. Their personal traumas and risks, interestingly, find a perspective and a balance in comparison with the large-scale destruction of the planet. Hence, the apocalyptic, the pastoral, and the dystopic are juggled—alternated contrapuntally—in these narratives to convey the urgency of both the personal loss and the large-scale environmental damage that is occurring all around us, conveying the criticality of both. This “scale-framing” becomes an effective way of communicating unimaginable catastrophes on a human, imaginable scale.

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