The Paradox of Return: Origins, Home and Identity in M.G. Vassanji's The Gunny Sack

Ashok K Mohapatra


This paper seeks to explore how M.G. Vassanji conciliates between the nostalgic desire for home and community through the characters in The Gunny Sack on the one hand, and the inescapable consciousness of the reality of exile and the absence of community on the other hand on the basis of the idea of a multi-locational home. Reconfigured as the Shehrazade of the Arabian Nights, the novel's central trope, the gunny sack, curiously parallels Vassanji's own story of a non-descript migrant writer in an alien land, who struggled for identity and cultural survival through spinning an endless yarn of stories of migration. Although, indeed, diasporic migration is a one-way affair, Vassanji nevertheless strikes discursive postures of a return to an imagined originary home, while paradoxically critiquing at the same time the notions of originary home and identity.


Postcolonial Studies; Vassanji; Gunny Sack

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