Exploring death and grief : Zen in Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2020, vol. 46, iss. 2, pp. 281-296
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
This article analyses how Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man (2002) portrays the individual trauma of loss of Alex-Li Tandem, a Chinese-Jewish Englishman, who experiences prolonged grief after the death of his father. More specifically, this article provides an in-depth analysis of grief and argues that it is through Zen Buddhism that Alex eventually accepts death in general and is finally able to participate in Kaddish, a Jewish ritual to remember the deceased. Moving away from previous analysis of the novel's postsecularism and trauma in general, this article focuses on the portrayal of mourning, the interrogation of contemporary approaches to death and bereavement, and the role different spiritual traditions play in Alex’s process of working through.
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