Encountering strange lands : migrant texture in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s fiction

Kagai, Ezekiel Kimani (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)-- Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study engages with the complete novelistic oeuvre of the Zanzibari-born author Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose fiction is dedicated to the theme of migration. With each novel, however, Gurnah deploys innovative stylistic features as an analytic frame to engage with his signature topic. From his first novel to his eighth, Gurnah offers new insights into relocation and raises new questions about what it means to be a migrant or a stranger in inhospitable circumstances and how such conditions call for a negotiation of hospitable space. What gives each of his works a distinct aesthetic appeal is the artistic resourcefulness and versatility with which he frames his narratives, in order to situate them within their historical contexts. This allows him to interrogate the motives behind his characters’ actions (or behind their inaction). Gurnah, therefore, employs a variety of narrative perspectives that not only challenge the reader in the task of interpreting his complex works, but which also allow for the pleasure of carrying out this task. In its exploration of migrant subjectivities and their multiple and varied negotiations to create enabling spaces, this thesis shows how Gurnah’s fiction deploys various artistic strategies as possible ways of thinking about individual identity and social relations with others. In short, this thesis explores how Gurnah’s texts become discursive tools for understanding the complexity of migrancy and cultural exchanges along the Swahili coast, in Zanzibar, in the Indian Ocean, and in the UK.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis is ‘n studie van die geheelwerk van die Zanzibar-gebore skrywer Abdulrazak Gurnah, wie se fiksiewerk gewy is aan die tema van migrasie. Hoewel daar so ‘n deurlopende en kenmerkende tema in die geheelwerk is, ontwikkel die skrywer stilistiese vernuwing in elk van die individuele romans. Vanaf sy eerste roman tot en met sy agtste en mees onlangse, bied Gurnah se romans aan die leser nuwe insigte in die tema van verhuising, en die romans vra elkeen nuwe vrae oor wat dit beteken om ‘n migrant of vreemdeling te wees in onverwelkomende omgewings. Die romans wil ook vra wat die opsies is vir die individu om sulke omgewings meer verwelkomend te ervaar, of meer verwelkomend te maak. Wat Gurnah se werk so uitsonderlik maak en wat elke individuele roman ‘n kenmerkende estetiese eienskap gee, is sy vernuf en veelsydigheid as skrywer, en veral sy vermoë om sy verhale te historiseer. Hierdie historisering stel hom in staat om die beweegredes van sy karakters en hulle aksies (en dikwels ook gebrek aan aksies) te verken sowel as te bevraagteken. Gurnah maak gebruik van ‘n aantal estetiese perspektiewe wat nie alleen ‘n uitdaging stel aan die leser nie, maar wat terselfdertyd ‘n hoogs bevredigende leesaktiwiteit moontlik maak. Hierdie tesis is ‘n ondersoek na die aard van Gurnah se werk, en veral die verkenning van die innerlike wereld van die verhuisde, en die veelvoudige verskeidenheid van onderhandelings wat sulke individue het met hulle omgewing. Die tesis verken die maniere waarop Gurnah se tekste beskou kan word as kreatiewe handleidings met die doel om die kompleksiteite van verhuising en migrasie te begryp; en veral verhuising en kulturele wisselwerkinge aan die Swahili-kus, sowel as Zanzibar, die groter Indiese Oseaan-wereld en ook die Verenigde Koninkryk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86484
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