Abstract

Abstract:

This essay examines Helen Oyeyemi’s novel Boy, Snow, Bird as an example of what I have coined the subverted passing novel, which I define as a subgenre of the conventional passing novel that undermines its archetypal conventions. I argue that Oyeyemi challenges the usual scope and formulae of the passing novel by offering readers the atypical stories of a white-passing woman who must learn to pass for black and an arguably transgender man who may have been misidentified as a passing lesbian. I conclude that by staging cultural identity as a matter of both personal narrative articulation and public narrative contestation, Boy, Snow, Bird exceeds even while rendering more trenchant the passing narrative, foregrounding the audacity of reinventing oneself and encouraging skepticism about the praxes of reading and codifying identity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 181-208
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-27
Open Access
No
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