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AsianfailNarratives of Disenchantment and the Model Minority$
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Eleanor Ty

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040887

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040887.001.0001

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Haunted Memories, Spaces, and Trauma: The Unsuccessful Immigrant

Haunted Memories, Spaces, and Trauma: The Unsuccessful Immigrant

(p.61) Chapter 3 Haunted Memories, Spaces, and Trauma: The Unsuccessful Immigrant

Eleanor Ty

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines two novels that portray the unsuccessful immigrant. Lê thi diem thúy's The Gangster We Are All Looking For and Madeleine Thien's Certainty feature protagonists from war-torn countries in Southeast Asia -- Vietnam and Borneo (later Malaysia) -- who start new lives in North America but who carry with them painful and traumatic memories that intrude upon their lives and threaten to overwhelm them. Both novels illustrate the precarity of everyday existence by revealing the ways in which war, death, and violence can lie just beneath a veneer of the ordinary and unremarkable. In Lê's novel, space and place are used to suggest a refugee family's state of contingency, both geographically and psychically. In Thien's book, memories and dreams are shown to be mediated by various kinds of technology that enable healing and global connections, even as they reawaken pain and reinforce alienation.

Keywords:   Vietnamese refugee, war, trauma, memory, melancholia, masculinity, Madeleine Thien, Lê thi diem thúy, postmodern, technology, prosthetic memory, grief

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