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The Grammar of IdentityTransnational Fiction and the Nature of the Boundary$
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Stephen Clingman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278497

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278497.001.0001

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Route, Constellation, Faultline

Route, Constellation, Faultline

Caryl Phillips

(p.67) 2 Route, Constellation, Faultline
The Grammar of Identity

Stephen Clingman

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins by considering aspects of the biography of the black British writer Caryl Phillips, whose work sets out key features in contemporary transnational fiction. Brought to England from the West Indies at a very young age, the question of identity has always been a profound one for him. Instead of retreating into the self, however, Phillips has found extraordinary points of conjunction and contiguity with others, not least with the Jewish experience in Europe. The chapter explores key ideas in relation to Phillips: questions of ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ (an illuminating etymology of the term), constellation and faultline, as well as his extraordinary narrative forms. In The Nature of Blood these patterns emerge in narratives involving a female Holocaust survivor and Othello, among others. A Distant Shore explores topics of exile, the national, and transnational in the fragmented spatio-temporal locus of Britain.

Keywords:   A Distant Shore, black writers, Britain and identity, Caryl Phillips, Jewish experience, Othello, roots and routes, The Nature of Blood, transnational fiction, transnational form

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