Landscape and Caribbean women's historical fiction.
Sanjurjo Rodríguez, Zenaida.
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Julia Alvarez’s In the Name of Salome, Ramabai Espinet’s The Swinging Bridge, and Margaret Cézaire Thompson’s The True History of Paradise engage their imagination for memory retrieval to construct new historical narratives of their countries. Their texts recreate the lives of women and ordinary people in the community-ies while evading the style of “metanarratives” often engaged to tell the male-centered histories of their nations. These authors are among other Caribbean women novelists who have, since the 1980’s, distinguished themselves by situating their female characters in the turbulent socioeconomic and cultural histories of their individual island nations; their female protagonists are not placed in historical or environmental vacuums. I examine how female characters in these novels struggle in their interaction with their islands’ landscapes and cultural spaces to bridge and reconcile their islands histories with their personal histories. I argue that their struggles are thus narratives witnessing with added women-centered dimensions to their nation’s historical discourses. Their narratives provide provisional women’s sense of belongingness to their nations. The natural environments of each island provide these women liminal spaces that bridge past, present, and future as they consequently establish relations or links to their histories, homeland, family, and culture; these links follow them whether on the island or in the diaspora where they carry their histories with them. The landscapes, or the contours of their natural environments, of each island enable each of the women to forge both personal and collective stories from and within a broader Caribbean landscape.