A Poetics of Post-Memory in Tash Aw’s Harmony Silk Factory and Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists

Anita Harris Satkunananthan, PhD (aharris@ukm.edu.my),
Senior Lecturer, Centre for Research in Language and Linguistics,
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia

Date: 1st of April 2020 (Wednesday)
Time: 2:30pm – 4:30pm
Venue: IKMAS Meeting Room
All are welcome

This presentation suggests that the configurations of post-memory within literary texts contain their own internal logic which may be transcribed as poetics. Post-memory, as espoused by Marianne Hirsch (2012) is “a powerful and very particular form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection but through an imaginative investment.” (p.22). I extend Hirsch’s work on post-memory by arguing that a collective transgenerational memory creates its own poetics. A demonstration of the ways in which post-memory incites maze-like twists and turns in narratives because of the disconnect between personal and communal memory will therefore be examined in relation to Tash Aw’s Harmony Silk Factory and Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists. Both novels look at pivotal events in Malaysian history through Malaysian Chinese lenses. These novels deal with issues of history, hybridity and postcolonial complicity but embedded within these narrative stylings are the configurations of post-memory. Parameters of memory studies in relation to post-memory are therefore connected to the poetics of narrative structure and to postcolonial diasporic studies in the analysis of these texts.

Keywords: post-memory, garden maze, poetics, Malaysian Chinese diaspora, memory studies.

Anita Harris Satkunananthan is a critical theorist and senior lecturer housed at the Centre for Research in Language and Linguistics, FSSK, UKM. A postcolonial Gothic scholar, her works have been published in Hecate, Sussex Academic Press and Kritika Kultura. Her intersecting areas of research include: Postcolonial Gothic, Folklore Studies, Anthropocene Studies, Hauntology, EcoGothic in relation to the Environmental Humanities and Memory Studies. She is currently working on her postcolonial Gothic monograph while editing two folklore and Anthropocene Studies-related academic collections.


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