Memory Mechanisms in Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and Darraj’s The Inheritance of Exile

Prof. Jousef Awad, University of Jordan;       Abstract: This paper examines the intersection of the performativity of exile, gender, memory, and agency through the prism of postmodern feminism in Chinese American novelist Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1989) and in Arab American novelist Susan Darraj’s The Inheritance of Exile (2007). The paper suggests that in both novels the female subjects in perform exile through memory reflections that constantly remind them of their foreignness. They feel guilty if they do not perform their exilic self; therefore, they tend to isolate and denigrate themselves. Exile seems to be part of their fabric. Yet, the female characters cross these metaphorical borders through a mechanism of self-empowerment. They rebel against the androcentric and racial boundaries through re-connecting to their true selves. In undoing these social pitfalls, they succeed in embracing a powerful and dynamic mestiza consciousness. Hence, the paper discusses the mechanisms of memory and the schemes of transcending past recollections. It focuses on the workings of memory in ethnic women’s narratives. The texts of these hyphenated American authors highlight the dialectical representation of remembrance in the diasporic narratives. Consequently, the paper underscores the intersectionality of memory, healing, and ethnic identity in both novel.

Keywords: Amy Tan, Susan Darraj, Identity, Exile, Memory




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