Projections of Paradise

Ideal Elsewheres in Postcolonial Migrant Literature

Paradise is commonly imagined as a place of departure or arrival, beginning and closure, permanent inhabitation of which, however much desired, is illusory. This makes it the dream of the traveller, the explorer, the migrant – hence, a trope recurrent in postcolonial writing, which is so centrally concerned with questions of displacement and belonging.
Projections of Paradise documents this concern and demonstrates the indebtedness of writers as diverse as Salman Rushdie, Agha Shahid Ali, Cyril Dabydeen, Bernardine Evaristo, Amitav Ghosh, James Goonewardene, Romesh Gunesekera, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Janette Turner Hospital, Penelope Lively, Fatima Mernissi, Michael Ondaatje, Shyam Selvadurai, M.G. Vassanji, and Rudy Wiebe to strikingly similar myths of fulfilment. In writing, directly or indirectly, about the experience of migration, all project paradises as places of origin or destination, as homes left or not yet found, as objects of nostalgic recollection or hopeful anticipation. Yet in locating such places, quite specifically, in Egypt, Zanzibar, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, the Sundarbans, Canada, the Caribbean, Queensland, Morocco, Tuscany, Russia, the Arctic, the USA, and England, they also subvert received fantasies of paradise as a pleasurable land rich with natural beauty.
Projections of Paradise explores what happens to these fantasies and what remains of them as postcolonial writings call them into question and expose the often hellish realities from which popular dreams of ideal elsewheres are commonly meant to provide an escape.
Contributors: Vera Alexander, Gerd Bayer, Derek Coyle, Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, Evelyne Hanquart-Turner, Ursula Kluwick, Janne Korkka, Marta Mamet-Michalkiewicz, Sofia Muñoz-Valdieso, Susanne Pichler, Helga Ramsey-Kurz, Ulla Ratheiser, Petra Tournay-Thedotou.

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Helga Ramsey-Kurz is an associate professor of English literature at the University of Innsbruck, and Geetha Ganapathy-Doré an associate professor of English in the Law, Political and Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Paris 13. The research interests and publications of both co-editors are in the field of postcolonial literature and culture.
Helga Ramsey–Kurz: Introduction: Some Uses of Paradise
Vera Alexander: Revisiting Lost Gardens: The Expulsion from Childhood in the Writings of Penelope Lively
Geetha Ganapathy–Doré: Kashmir by Way of London and New York: Projections of Paradise in Salman Rushdie and Agha Shahid Ali
Gerd Bayer: Subverting the Tropical Paradise
Evelyne Hanquart–Turner: The Search for Paradise: Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
Susanne Pichler: “But are we not all refugees from something?”: Projections of Paradise in Romesh Gunesekera’s Reef
Petra Tournay–Theodotou: Reconfigurations of “home as a mythic place of desire”: Bernardine Evaristo’s Soul Tourists
Sofía Muñoz Valdivieso: The Paradise Within: Displacement, Memory and Nostalgia in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea
Marta Mamet–Michalkiewicz: Paradise Regained? The Harem in Fatima Mernissi’s Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood
Ulla Ratheiser: The Scent of Paradise: Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cinnamon Peeler”
Ursula Kluwick: Waters of Paradise: The English Patient
Derek Coyle: “I got raptures once, and I saw God”: Shabine as Prophetic Shaman of Paradise in Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight
Janne Korkka: “I feel the land”: Contradictions of Place in Rudy Wiebe’s Mennonite Novels
Helga Ramsey–Kurz: Glimpses of Paradise: Hope in Short Stories of Migration by M.G. Vassanji, Cyril Dabydeen, and Janette Turner Hospital
Notes on Contributors