Journeying Home: The Politics of Return in Postcolonial Fiction

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“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” –Milan Kundera, Ignorance

Recent postcolonial fictions, such as Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, and Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup, seem to indicate a “return,” not only to “homelands,” but more crucially to urgent political and ethical concerns about human justice, about the environment, and about community. What does the notion of return entail in the shifting geographical boundaries and political realities of the contemporary global context? This paper considers whether such “return migrations” differ from models of return that focus on themes of memory and nostalgia, exile and melancholia, home and belonging and suggests that such transformative narratives of return perhaps reflect “new itineraries” and a “re-routing” of the postcolonial and explore “not only leave-taking and departure, watchwords of the migrant condition, but also the regeneration of communities and selves out of heterogeneous experiences in the new country” (Boehmer 250).


Keywords: Return Migration, Migrant Condition
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Shao-Pin Luo

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dr. Shao-Pin Luo teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. She has published articles in book collections as well as in such journals as Critique, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, and Dalhousie Review. Her research interests are in diaspora and translation studies.

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