Problematic Identities in Women's Fiction of the Sri Lankan Diaspora


Women novelists of the Sri Lankan diaspora make a significant contribution to the field of South Asian postcolonial studies. Their writing is critical and subversive, particularly concerned as it is with the problematic of identity. This book engages in insightful readings of nine novels by women writers of the Sri Lankan diaspora: Michelle de Kretser’s The Hamilton Case (2003); Yasmine Gooneratne’s A Change of Skies (1991), The Pleasures of Conquest (1996), and The Sweet and Simple Kind (2006); Chandani Lokugé’s If the Moon Smiled (2000) and Turtle Nest (2003); Karen Roberts’s July (2001); Roma Tearne’s Mosquito (2007); and V.V. Ganeshananthan’s Love Marriage (2008). These texts are set in Sri Lanka but also in contemporary Australia, England, Italy, Canada, and North America. They depict British colonialism, the Tamil–Sinhalese conflict, neocolonial touristic predation, and the double-consciousness of diaspora. Despite these different settings and preoccupations, however, this body of work reveals a consistent and vital concern with identity, as notably gendered and expressed through resonant images of mourning, melancholia, and other forms of psychic disturbance. This is a groundbreaking study of a neglected but powerful body of postcolonial fiction.

“This is an excellent study that I believe makes a significant and timely contribution to the fields of postcolonial literature, Sri Lankan anglophone literature, diasporic literature, women’s studies, and world literature. It was a stimulating and thought-provoking read.” Dr Maryse Jayasuriya, The University of Texas at El Paso.
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Biographical Note

ALEXANDRA WATKINS lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has a PhD from Deakin University, where she has taught and researched in literary studies and creative writing since 2004. She specializes in postcolonial and diasporic literatures, as well as literature for children and young adults. Her work has appeared in Postcolonial Text.

Table of contents

1 Mimicry and Detection: Dismantling Identity in Michelle de Kretser’s The Hamilton Case
2 In Fear of Monsters: Women’s Identities and the Cult of Domesticity in British Ceylon
3 Combatting Myths: Racial and Cultural Identity in Postcolonial Sri Lanka
4 Chandani Lokugé and Yasmine Gooneratne: Deconstructing Postcolonial Tourism, Exoticism, and Colonial Simulacra
5 Diasporic Identities: Inscriptions of Celebration and Psychic Trauma in Western Locations
‘Pretty Little Tales’ of Substance: A Conclusion
Works Cited 213