Identity Politics and the Voice of Autobiography in Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café

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Book Chapter

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Peter Lang


Autobiography is traditionally defined as the narration of the self. But "self' today, post the postmodern debate about the death of the author and the evolving cultural discourses about identity construction, stands in a space that requires a new definition. This definition has to take into cognizance that self-narration is no more a mere retrieval of the past, where the past may be fixed archaeological sites, easily delved into and recounted in anecdotal, linear narrative form. Any attempt at autobiography today has to deal with the fragmented self, of not one self but a number of selves; - "those intriguing fractures of the self."1 For it is the voice/s of these other/s that actively construct/s the several positionings of the text. And as the text circulates2 within and without these positionings, it addresses questions of representation and re-presentation of identity politics, of personal and collective memory, of reader response and receptivity, as these contribute to the emerging mode of constituted subjectivity. Vital to this transformative process of discovery and invention, which revolves around, as well as evolves, a self or several selves, is the site of memory. Moving in the racial, sexual and political inter-realities, this site of memory, as Toni Morrison in her essay of the same name points out, strikes a unique ground that probes into a symbiotic relationship between autobiography and fiction. Autobiography, however, moves beyond this, beyond categories, and into "the realm of imagination where the image comes first and tells [ ... ] what the memory is about."3 It is the aura surrounding these images, of told and untold stories, of floating emotional memory shrouded in mystery, that forms an integral part of that image, where a deciphering would be desecration, for autobiography exists in this site.

Chapter of

Fiction and Autobiography: Modes and Models of Interaction

Part of

Salzburg Studies in English Literature and Culture


Sabine Coelsch-Foisner
Wolfgang Goertschacher

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