Sinhalese Perspectives in Transnational Sri Lankan Literature

JESLYN SHARNITA AMARASEKERA is Senior Lecturer at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Kuala Lumpur. Her main research interest is in transnational Asian literature in English, specifically transnational Sri Lankan literature in English.

SHANTHINI PILLAI is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), National University of Malaysia (UKM). Her research interests are anchored primarily in ethnic diversity, diaspora, and transnationalism in literary and cultural texts with particular reference to the global South Asian diaspora.

Penerbit UKM (First Printing, 2018)
150 pages including References and Index

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Sinhalese Perspectives in Transnational Sri Lankan Literature looks at the position of transnational Sri Lankan writers, specifically the Sinhalese and their role in understanding the different perspectives of the Sinhalese. The main focus is to analyze how the selected writings from six different transnational Sri Lankan writers present a Sinhalese perspective to the Transnational Sri Lankan experience, to reveal whether Sri Lanka is constructed as home or whether it is a site of unhomeliness and lastly for indications of either the perpetuation of trauma or opportunities for reconciliation.

Incorporating concepts of home and unhomeliness, syncretism, and specularism, as well as Buddhist concepts of Nibbana and Samsara, the findings of this book, are significant in determining whether the transnational Sinhalese imaginary is syncretic or specular. This book thus is useful in conveying the viewpoint of transnational Sri Lankan Sinhalese writers and the role that they can play in efforts of reconciliation.

The research corpus encompasses four novels produced by the transnational male and female Sri Lankan writers, specifically writers of Sinhalese descent who continue to write about their homeland despite living away from it. The selected texts are Softly As I Leave You by Chandani Lokuge, Island of A Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera, Distant Warriors by Channa Wickremesekera, and Beggar’s Feast by Randy Boyagoda. The analysis carried out for each novel pores into the manifestations of Sri Lanka as a construction of a comforting home or a site for unhomeliness. The Sinhalese perspectives are also revealed through the projection of characters as either, syncretic or specular.

Sinhalese Perspectives in Transnational Sri Lankan Literature will also observe how the Sri Lankan diaspora which is considered part of the South Asian diaspora is on the fringes of discussion. Established discourses on transnationalism will be used. The concept of home, conflict, unhomeliness, alienation, trauma, hybridity, syncretism, and reconciliation would be considered the key issues to be examined here. The central focus rests on the idea of syncretism and specularism which examines the ability for writers as well as the characters portrayed to accept change in their lives. Syncretism, which translates as the ability to move fluidly between borders and accept the changes in life can be explored through the analysis of the characters of these transnational Sri Lankan writings.

At the same time, specularism is perceived as the lack of fluidity and struggle to accept change. The concepts of syncretism and specularism will be juxtaposed with relevant terms from the teachings of Buddhism to determine if the characters of each novel are trapped by the trauma of the past, which does not permit them to embrace the change and move on in life.

Weight 0.237 kg
Dimensions 22.8 × 15.2 × 0.7 cm
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