Between Remembering and Confession: A Refugee Narrative in Dina Nayeri’s Refuge

Kyiv National Linguistic University, Ukraine / Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Shymchyshyn, Mariya;
Kyiv National Linguistic University, Ukraine
Chernyshova, Svitlana

This article focuses on the retrospective narrative in the Iranian American novelist Dina Nayeri’s Refuge (2017). We argue that the novel’s interpretations of acts of remembering, which presuppose confession and re-evaluation, define the ways of constructing the refugee identity of the main character, Niloo. Within the discourse of retrospection, the self appears in the mode of reflection over past events, and thanks to temporal distance, the self can verbalize changes in perception of the past self. Thus, retrospection becomes a psychological and narrative endeavor during which identity is created through the experience of re-evaluation. The interaction between then and now as well as their final convergence in the end of the novel result in the continuity of experience and coherence of identity. Niloo’s ontology of becoming is possible through the re-living of the past, its interpretation, and its integration into the present. In other words, the possibility of reflection over experience is the very condition for her becoming. The main character concentrates on her meetings with her father in different cities (Oklahoma City, London, Madrid, and Istanbul) and her re-evaluation of her emotional experience during those meetings. These moments of re-evaluation explicate the dynamics of her identity construction, which shifts from a rejection of her past to an embrace of it.


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