Comment on the expatriate experience in contemporary novels.

Asked on by abhisek

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fairly powerful question.  I think that recent technological advances and the increasingly globalized nature of the world setting has to play into this topic.  As the world becomes easier with which to network and communicate, I think that one's cultural identity with one's nation is becoming less important.  This does not mean that borders are disappearing or completely becoming void.  Rather, it means that individual's strict sense of self as being defined by national identity is becoming interspersed with other conceptions.  For example, Pasternak is considered "Russian."  In the modern setting, globalization is making the exchange of ideas and notions something that is more seamless, so that the national identity of literature is becoming an element that is not entirely guaranteed.  I think that a writer like Salman Rushdie could be part of this dialogue.  Here is a writer who was born in India at the time of Partition, studies in England, and then though his work is exiled from both homes.  He ends up journeying to different parts of the world and this globalized reality is reflected in his writing.  One could not say that geographic or national identity defines Rushdie.  His latest book is about life in Florentine times during the Middle Ages.  His experience of being an expatriate has demonstrated how one can end up choosing their own identity to be reflected in their writing.  Geography does not have to play a definitive role in this process.

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