Marinkova, Milena (2013) Canadian Literature of “here” and “elsewhere”: CanLit Balkans. British Journal of Canadian Studies, 26 (2). pp. 253-273. ISSN 0269-9222

This article examines the use of ‘the Balkan’ as a trope in Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion and Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces. Whilst speaking to a well-established inventory of ‘the Balkan’ that invokes the region and its peoples in a range of exoticising and demonising metaphors, the texts under consideration also mobilise the Balkan trope in order to interrogate national myths of homogeneity and essentialist notions of identity - issues central to the political and cultural debates taking place in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s when both novels were published. By drawing on the historical, political and cultural affinities between the Balkans and Canada, in terms of their geopolitical liminality, cultural multiplicity and fraught European legacies, Ondaatje and Michaels redefine ‘the Balkan’ as a mediating and enabling site within a multiplicity of fraught contexts, and thus explore the ethical, critical and political possibilities of a transnational literary positionality.

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