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
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
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.
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