Elleke Boehmer
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Beside the west
Postcolonial women writers in a transnational frame

This chapter returns to the question of how women writers, specifically of a younger generation, theorise and re-emblematise the nation in their work. Whereas some women writers choose to distance themselves from the nation as extraneous to their concerns, Yvonne Vera and Arundhati Roy are representative of a subtly different approach. In the face of neocolonial disillusionment and the erasures of identity threatened by globalisation, they extend the ‘revisionary scepticism’ concerning the homogenising nation they share with their male counterparts, yet strategically play off its different narratives – of patriliny and matriliny, of modernity and tradition – against one another. Avoiding the stance of spokesperson and the all-commanding epic voice, they reframe the male-defined co-ordinates of national selfhood in relation to other modes of situating identity, such as those of region, environment, belief and sexuality, without however refusing the nation altogether. The chapter also offers an intertextual commentary on Roy's first and to date only novel, The God of Small Things, and of her non-fictional polemic against transnationalism.

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Stories of women

Gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation


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