Published sixteen years after the end of the Vietnam War, RobertOlen Butler’s Pulitzer-winning short-story cycle A Good Scent froma Strange Mountain (1992) is an imaginative attempt by a Euro-American writer to come to terms with the consequences of the armed conflictfor the many thousands of Vietnamese refugees who emigrated to, andsettled in, the USA during and after the conflict. The stories dramatize theinternal and external conflicts that the predominantly Vietnamese-Americanprotagonists experience owing to their cultural and national relocation as firstgenerationimmigrants, or due to their cultural and ethnic hybridity as secondgenerationimmigrants. This essay aims to show how both the form and centraltheme of the volume can be understood not only as a negotiation betweenAmerican and Vietnamese identities, but also as going beyond the compulsionto identify self and other along national and ethnic lines. It will argue thatButler’s text transcends national and ethnic determinations by imagining atranscultural subjectivity, according to which characters can enjoy somethingclose to mutual understanding. As will be shown, this transcultural transcendencetakes place on different levels in the text: on the level of the characters,on the level of the narrators, and on the level of the author. Thus, the textitself can be seen as an example of transculturality in the sense that the author crosses cultural boundaries in order to imagine and narrate his stories from aVietnamese-American perspective.
HUMANIORA -- Språk och litteratur (hsv//swe)
HUMANITIES -- Languages and Literature (hsv//eng)
Robert Olen Butler
Det amerikanska subjektets rekonstruktion: en studie av prisbelönad amerikansk skönlitterär prosa från 1990-talet