“Homelands” in Comparison: Global (In)securities and New Marginalities Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies (2020) and Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland (2017)

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Susana Araújo


The paper will read Ayad Akhtar’s acclaimed novel, Homeland Elegies (2020), a fictional memoir that attempts to examine the socially fragmented landscape of the United States during Trump’s presidency alongside Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (2017), a non-fictional book which explores how a growing section of the US working class, facing ongoing poverty and insecurity, has become “houseless”. Interrogating the reach of Trump’s “antisystem” rhetoric to find accolades in his own Pakistani family well as amongst of his AfricanAmerican friends, Akhtar’s novel offers a caleidoscopic vision of the US and reflects upon the ways in which economic neoliberalism reinforced by post-9/11 anxieties led to the nationalist configuration which Michael Moore called “Trumpland.” Bruder’s Nomadland, on the other hand, unveils of how a subculture of nomads, most of them senior citizens who have fallen victim to unemployment, mortgage fraud, job loss, healthcare debt, among other problems, found themselves entering into mobile but highly precarious existence on the road, living in campervans and other motor homes. By evoking imagery associated with the western genre and its role in American history, Bruder’s book and its filmic adaptation by Chloé Zhao, challenge the myth of the white picket fence American “Home,” complementing Akhtar’s vision of migrant communities in the US to show values such as stability and social security have been discarded from current notions of “Homeland.” This paper will finish by contextualizing the above texts within a larger corpus of works to show how these visions of home(lessness) have also found echoes also outside the US. Securitarian policies and configurations of “Home/land,” reinforced after 9/11, led to increasingly biased and discriminatory visions of “Home” and “Security,” whose inhospitable visions of “Home/land” in different parts of the world.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Minorities and/in Literature