After – lives: The Transnational and the Local in the Fiction of Abdulrazak Gurnah and M.Mukundan

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E.V. Ramakrishnan


The present paper critically examines the complex dialectic between the trans­national and the local in post – colonial societies in Africa and Asia with reference to the works of two major novelists, Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Nobel – Prize Winner and M. Mukundan, a major Malayalam novelist who has won the JCB Prize for Literary Fiction in 2021 and also the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of the Government of France in 1998. Abdulrazak Gurnah revisits the scarred past of his native Zanzibar, which is now part of Tanzania in the light of the complex relations between memory and history, in an attempt to retrieve the past completely erased by the European narratives of colonialism. His novels like Paradise and Afterlives capture the cultural amnesia that renders the past undecipherable. M.Mukundan belongs to Mahe, a former French colony in the heart of north Kerala, in the south of India. In a series of very sensitively written novels, he has examined how the cultural identity of modern Kerala, is made up of multiple strands that extend to many other countries, making it impossible to speak of monolithic ethnic identities. In novels like Mayyazhipuzhyude Theerangalil (On the Banks of the Mayyazhi River, 1980), Daivathinte Vikrtikal (God’s Mischief, 2002) and Pravasam (Exile, 2008) he portrays a past which is marked with several crossings of borders, departures and returns. A comparative study of this kind will help us bring out how the Asian and African social imaginaries converge or diverge along the axis of complex movements of history. We need to factor in the cultural past of the Global South into the idea of the transnational to comprehend the nature of circulations and exchanges among different post – colonial spaces.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

Article Details

Transnationalism and the Languages/Literatures of the Global South: South Asian