Translingual Affairs of World Literature

Rootlessness and Romance in Jhumpa Lahiri and Yoko Tawada

In: Journal of World Literature
Fabrizio De Donno Royal Holloway University of London UK London

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This essay explores a number of texts of the exophonic, or non-native literary production, respectively in Italian and German, of translingual authors Jhumpa Lahiri and Yoko Tawada. While the paper looks at how their dominant languages, respectively English and Japanese, continue to play a role in these writers’ non-native production, it focuses on the different approaches the two authors adopt to translingualism and the “linguistic family romance” metaphor, which they equally employ in highly imaginative ways in order to address both their condition of rootlessness and their attitudes to the notion of “mother tongue.” The essay argues that while Lahiri seems to remain a writer that does not contaminate languages (she is a writer in English, a writer in Italian, and a translator of Italian literature into English), Tawada brings German and Japanese together and dwells on the space of contamination between them in her production in German (and Japanese).

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