Passages to (Be)Longing
The introduction articulates this book’s four main arguments. First, as the selected novelists reimagine the lives of uprooted groups and individuals in various stages and settings of black history, they actively contribute to the ongoing transnational formation of black diasporic identity. Second, these novelists frequently evoke (some quite subtly) slavery and colonial modernity. Their allusions to the Middle Passage and enslavement speak to the choices that they make while participating in the continuing construction of black diasporic identity—regardless of whether they belong to the civil-rights generation of African American novelists or to the cultural-nationalist generation of Caribbean authors or to a later generation of contemporary transnational British, Canadian, American, and Caribbean writers. Third, as this book’s chapter on black soldiers’ wartime experiences abroad demonstrates, much can be gained through a dually focused thematic approach that both examines black novelists’ representations of diaspora and explores their depictions of more temporarily and loosely understood experiences of displacement or dislocation. Fourth, the novels discussed in this book portray a “diasporic double consciousness.” This term refers to the dislocated/relocated protagonists’ sense of not belonging and their simultaneous yearning to experience fulfilling human connection and communion in a place they could call “home.”
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