“It’s good that I write this down”: Caribbean Life Writing by Danticat, Marshall, and Nunez
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In Transnational Negotiations in Caribbean Diasporic Literature (2010), Kezia Page considers the work of generations of Caribbean writers whose work functions as cultural remittances which posit returns of varying kinds both to the Caribbean and the wider diaspora. She writes: “Indeed, neither exile nor diaspora can be considered outside of return, despite the different subject positions that drive return in each-in one, return functions as an antidote to displacement” (9:2010). While Page’s work examines fiction as well as life writing, she does articulate the ways the texts function within the wider framework of border-crossings, travel, loss and reclamation that characterize transnational narratives. My paper considers the memoirs of three Caribbean women writers to explore the ways the texts function as cultural remittances which offer sites of possibility for reading the intersection of class and gender. The three texts are Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I am Dying (2007), Paule Marshall’s Triangular Road (2009) and Elizabeth Nunez’s Not for Everyday Use (2014). I want to explore how these texts offer new ways of reading by investigating the deployment of fundamental concepts of life writing namely performativity, positionality and relationality within the framework of the transnational text to chart shifts, changes and repetitions which might reveal the nature of the cultural remit for future generations. Smith and Watson (2009) note that and understanding of these key terms continue to: “enable more flexible reading practices and more inclusive approaches to the field of life narrative” (16:2009). By mapping the deployment of these concepts across texts, I hope to raise questions about the specific concerns of women writers from the Caribbean; the changes in strategies of self-representation and the possible readings on both sides of the cultural ‘return’.