Stylizing Life: Empathy and Translation in Roisín O'Donnell's Transcultural Writing

Hedwig Schwall

Resumo


As an arch-migrant, Roisín O’Donnell moves between mental, spatial and verbal homes, between teaching and writing. In “How to be a Billionaire” and “Crushed”, two short stories which wrap her volume Wild Quiet (2016) she develops a “narratology of otherness”, using a combination of empathy and translation to convey her new Irish schoolchildren’s “tussles with identities” into complex and colourful texts, allowing the reader glimpses of the ways in which her protagonists shift between affects and emotions, phantasms and memories, confusion and trauma. Fed by the theories of Jacques Lacan, Christopher Bollas, René Anzieu and Giorgio Agamben this article will perform a close reading of the formal ingenuities in O’Donnell’s style, devised to represent the “crowded nature of contemporary selfhood”. More specifically this reading focuses on six kinds of communication: body language, dress code, gestural idiom (in “Gestalten”), impact of spatial factors, verbal abilities, and finally emotional and mental images which form a kind of “pellicular” diary.

Keywords: Roisín O’Donnell; Wild Quiet; “How to be a Billionaire”; “Crushed”; new Irish; Gestalt; RIS system; the good enough parent.


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