Writing the Armenian genocide in Eve Makis's The Spice Box Letters : trauma, diaspora, community

Author: Nyman, Jopi
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2020, vol. 46, iss. 2, pp. 231-247
Extent
231-247
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type
Article
Language
English
Abstract(s)
This essay examines the role and representation of the trauma of the Armenian genocide in the recent novel The Spice Box Letters (2015) by the British Cypriot writer Eve Makis. Set in 1985 and based on stories told by the diasporic Armenian community, the novel is concerned with the history of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and explores its traumatic effects on different generations in the form of witnessing, the refugee experience, displacement, and diaspora. The essay applies the conceptualization of trauma representation as presented in Michael Rothberg's study (2000) and in Marianne Hirsch's (2008) notion of postmemory, which understand trauma and post-trauma as multi-layered, generational responses to the original event. By including both narratives by witnesses of the genocide and other family members living in diaspora, the novel explores the intergenerational character of the traumatic experience and the resultant displacement, and addresses ways of overcoming the traumatizing past. It brings together the dispersed family members and unites them with the larger diasporic community by using the idea of constellation both literally and figuratively in the narrative to imagine new affiliations with tradition and community.
Document
References:
[1] Çelik, Adnan, and Ergin Öpengi (2016) The Armenian genocide in the Kurdish novel: restructuring identity through collective memory . European Journal of Turkish Studies: Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey (2016). Accessed on 15 April 2020. https://doi.org/10.4000/ejts.5291 | DOI 10.4000/ejts.5291

[2] Clifford, James (1992) Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[3] Dean-Rucizka, Rachel (2017) Tolerance Discourse and Young Adult Holocaust Literature: Engaging Difference and Identity . New York: Routledge.

[4] Eaglestone, Robert, and Barry Langford (2008) Introduction . In: Robert Eaglestone and Barry Langford (eds.) Teaching Holocaust Literature and Film. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 1–14.

[5] European Parliament (2015) Resolution of 15 April 2015 on the centenary of the Armenian genocide . 2015/2590. 15 Apr. 2015. Accessed on 9 January 2020. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-8-2015-0094_EN.html

[6] Franklin, Ruth (2011) A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[7] Galip, Özlem Belçim (2016) The politics of remembering: the representation of Armenian genocide in Kurdish novels . Holocaust and Genocide Studies 30 (3): 458–487.

[8] Hirsch, Marianne (2008) The Generation of Postmemory . Poetics Today 29 (1): 103–128. | DOI 10.1215/03335372-2007-019

[9] Makis, Eve (2015) The Spice Box Letters . Dingwall: Sandstone Press.

[10] Mannur, Anita (2010) Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture . Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

[11] Mishra, Vijay (2007) The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary . London: Routledge.

[12] Oliver-Rotger, Maria Antónia (2015) Introduction: Roots and routes in American literature about return . In: Maria Antónia Oliver-Rotger (ed.) Identity, Diaspora and Return in American Literature. New York: Routledge, 1–21.

[13] Pifer, Michael (2016) The forgetful figure: Armenian representations of trauma in Arak'el of Tabriz and Shahan Shahnur . Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies 5 (1): 65–94. | DOI 10.1353/jlt.2016.0015

[14] Rothberg, Michael (2000) Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[15] Scheiber, Elizabeth (2009) Car cela devient une histoire: representation of the Holocaust in the imaginative and collective memoires of Charlotte Delbo . In: Aukje Kluge and Benn E. Williams (eds.) Re-examining the Holocaust through Literature. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 3–28.

[16] The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (2016) Eve Makis tells the story of an ordinary Armenian family . The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (online ed.), 1 September 2016. Accessed 15 April 2020. https://mirrorspectator.com/2016/09/01/eve-makis-tells-the-story-of-anordinary-armenian-family/