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Spaces of Expression and Repression in Post-Millennial North-American Literature and Visual Culture

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Edited By Izabella Kimak and Julia Nikiel

The essays included in this book offer an overview of literary works, films, TV series, and computer games, which reflect current social and political developments since the beginning of this century. The contributions intend to x-ray the most crucial aspects of contemporary North-American literature and culture. Addressing a variety of media, the authors of the essays probe the many ways in which repression and expression are the primary keywords for understanding contemporary American life and culture.

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Text, Image and Sound: Artistic Tiers in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams (Izabella Kimak)

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Izabella Kimak

Text, Image and Sound: Artistic Tiers in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams

Abstract: The article analyzes the intersection of text, image and sound in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s 2004 novel Queen of Dreams, in which art functions both as an antidote for loss and a reflection of an ethnic subject’s position in the post-9/11 US.

Keywords: Divakaruni, ekphrasis, Queen of Dreams, post-9/11 literature, South Asian American literature

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, an American author of South Asian descent, interrogates in her 2004 novel Queen of Dreams the intersection of textuality and two other modes of artistic representation, the visual and the aural. Art, both visual art and music, plays a two-fold role within Divakaruni’s narrative. On the one hand, art functions therapeutically as a means of aiding the characters’ recuperation from personal and communal traumas. Struggling with the death of her beloved mother, her own divorce and the post-9/11 backlash against Arab Americans and other ethnic groups resembling them physically,1 Divakaruni’s protagonist Rakhi ultimately finds solace in her work as a painter, after a long period of inability to even touch the paintbrush. The therapeutic function the author imbues art with goes hand in hand with its symbolic role of reflecting and commenting upon the complex questions of personal identity that the protagonist grapples with as a second-generation immigrant in the US barred through her parents’ decision from any knowledge of her South Asian background. Furthermore, invoking the discourse of...

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