Identity and Diasporic Trauma in Mira Jacob's “The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing”

Keywords: assimilation, memory, identity, trauma, diasporic experience


This article explores the assimilation politics in Mira Jacob’s Novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing (2013). The intersection of memory, trauma, and mourning with reference to immigrant experience is discussed. In terms of assimilation, Barkan’s six stage model is critiqued, and diasporic ‘hybridity’ is proposed as an alternative to the notion of total assimilation. In the analysis of traumatic experience, the paper makes reference to Caruth’s formulations of the ‘abreactive model’. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing (2013) is a transcultural text that represents the gap that truly exists between the first-generation immigrants and their offspring. It is a typical trauma novel featuring timeless and unspeakable experiences. The novel does not present a postcolonial collective trauma but invariably an example of diasporic imagined trauma. By presenting two contrasting generations in her novel, Mira Jacob attempts to highlight the dilemmas that baffle diasporas in the United States particularly of those that resist assimilation. Much of the narrative projects the haunting presence of home, and the anguish of personal loss experienced by first generation immigrants. Moreover, the novel questions the nostalgic and romantic engagements with the past and it promotes a bold affirmation of the culture of the adopted land. In other words, Mira Jacob calls for more genuine engagements with the new culture that the second and the third-generation immigrants are more exposed to than their home culture because their in-between status leaves them with no choice.

Author Biographies

Jameel Alghaberi, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India

Jameel Alghaberi is a PhD scholar in the English Department at Saurashtra University, Rajkot India. His research interests include diaspora studies, postcolonial interactions, cultural identity, and hybridity.

Sanjay Mukherjee, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India

Prof. Sanjay Mukherjee is the Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India. His research interests include cultural studies, literary theory, and poetry.


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How to Cite
Alghaberi, J., & Mukherjee, S. (2021). Identity and Diasporic Trauma in Mira Jacob’s “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing”. English Studies at NBU, 7(1), 51-68.