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Theorising irony and trauma in magical realism: Junot Díaz’s the brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s the swan book

Takolander, Maria K. 2016, Theorising irony and trauma in magical realism: Junot Díaz’s the brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s the swan book, Ariel: a review of international english literature, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 95-122.

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Title Theorising irony and trauma in magical realism: Junot Díaz’s the brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s the swan book
Author(s) Takolander, Maria K.
Journal name Ariel: a review of international english literature
Volume number 47
Issue number 3
Start page 95
End page 122
Total pages 28
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Place of publication Baltimore, Md.
Publication date 2016-07
ISSN 0004-1327
Keyword(s) magical realism
postcolonialism
trauma
Junot Díaz,
Alexis Wright
Summary Magical realism has been commonly theorized in terms of a postcolonial strategy of cultural renewal, according to which such fiction is understood as embodying a racialized epistemology allegedly inclusive of magic. The inherent exoticism of this idea has drawn criticism. Critics have recently begun to re-envision magical realism in terms of trauma theory. However, trauma readings of magical realism tend to unselfconsciously reinvigorate an authenticating rhetoric: magical realism is represented not as the organic expression of a precolonial or hybrid consciousness, but of colonial or other kinds of trauma. Through case studies of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book, this essay intervenes in trauma studies readings of magical realist literature to emphasize the fundamentally ironic nature of the iconic narrative strategy of representing the ostentatiously fantastical as real. It also argues that these texts, while invested in representing the traumas of colonialism, are less interested in authenticating magic as part of a postcolonial or traumatic epistemology than in transforming fantasy into history and empowered futurity.
Language eng
Field of Research 200501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature
200508 Other Literatures In English
2005 Literary Studies
Socio Economic Objective 950203 Languages and Literature
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, John Hopkins University Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30084338

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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