Instead of transforming dominant languages, contemporary novelists Jhumpa Lahiri, Yoko Tawada, and Kazuo Ishiguro have been choosing not to know them. Not knowing, by which they often mean not knowing well (Lahiri) or not knowing intrinsically (Tawada, Ishiguro), brings visibility to the history of conflict and collaboration within languages and focuses the conversation on linguistic hospitality rather than linguistic ownership. Lahiri, Tawada, and Ishiguro are first-generation migrants producing fiction in second or third languages. They are not clearing the space for the right to use a colonial language, as Joyce and Rushdie were, nor are they aiming to produce a radical equality of unknowing. Instead, they are incorporating histories of literacy, language access, and multilingualism while tactically stripping linguistic confidence from even the most fluent reader of their works. They use multilingual narration to replace individuated voices with reported, interdependent, or translated voices.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 323-346
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.