TRANSCULTURAL WRITERS AND NOVELS IN THE AGE OF GLOBAL MOBIILITY
(Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, 2015)
"In this thought-provoking study, Arianna Dagnino is concerned to identify a cohort of writers who, in the ease with which they move between domiciles, languages and cultures, find themselves ahead of the pack in expressing a newly emergent transcultural sensibility. In a series of interviews, intercut with her own diary entries and treated to a light process of fictionalization – which is brought off with a novelist’s skilled hand – five writers present their reflections on their genesis, their present situation, and their future aims in a more and more globalized world, reflections which are never less than interesting and are often far-sighted. Their comments are in turn interrogated by Dagnino and set in a wider framework of transcultural theory. Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility is a significant contribution to a growing body of work on the metamorphosis of literary culture in times of dissolving cultural boundaries."
Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, The University of Adelaide
"This book is an inspiring combination of rigorous scholarship and creative nonfiction. In a fascinating and totally unconventional way, Dagnino makes a significant contribution to the area of transcultural studies. By crossing cultures, theoretical boundaries and disciplines (cultural anthropology, sociology, comparative literature, cultural studies, creative writing), she opens up new avenues of conceptual creativity, experimental criticism, and literary inventiveness. While crediting postmodernism for its indisputably critical stance, her book witnesses and signals the rise of a “proto-global” mode of thinking, reflecting the Bakhtinian transition from finality to initiation."
Mikhail Epstein, Durham University (UK), Emory University (USA)
"In Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility Arianna Dagnino establishes the values of transnational frameworks for the conceptualization of new forms of cultural mobility and cultural reflexivity in relation to literary modernity. Culture is characterized as a fluid process, as well as consisting of an assemblage of artifacts. The framework within which Dagnino places her writers (Ilija Trojanow (Bulgarian/German/Kenyan), Alberto Manguel (Argentinian/German/Canadian), Brian Castro (Chinese/Portuguese/Australian), Inez Baranay (Hungarian/Australian), and Tim Parks (English/Italian) is one that accentuates the "confluence" of cultures, their hybridity, and capacity to form new formations rather than being relegated to the binary oppositions associated with literary analyses in the wake of postcolonial theory. Building on the work of Fernando Ortiz (transculturation), Mikhail Epstein (transculture), and Wolfgang Welsch (transculturality), and comparative cultural studies, Dagnino develops new concepts such as "transpatriation" to emphasize the border-crossing nature of these writers. In addition, Dagnino draws on her own skills as a creative writer to blur the boundaries between creative and critical writing by using the interview reflexively as both mode of analysis and imaginative biography. This innovative approach ensures that the book is a pleasure to read. As "world literature" is being re-conceptualized, her work will undoubtedly impact these debates in unique ways."
Sneja Gunew, The University of British Columbia
"This is an important book that looks beyond the fences which limit the imaginary lives of writers from the moment they take on a public face. In this age of border security, identity reconfirmation, un-selfconscious social media postings in which a general lack of interiority has the potential to destroy privacy and literature itself, Arianna Dagnino has intelligently and sensitively mapped the critical mobility and rebellion that attend the creative mind. A large part of this work reads like a novel, and in a way, practises what it professes: a “transpatriation” of form – a letting go of familiar frameworks and traditional terminologies – in order to uncover the complexities of what is shaping up to be a decisive mind-shift in the world of letters. If that happens to be a developing trend then this study has a steady finger on its pulse."
Brian Castro, The University of Adelaide
"Arianna Dagnino leads us into the heart of the new trends and problems concerning contemporary culture, identity and writing. She analyzes the place and possible contributions of transcultural writers in a world going more and more global, transcultural, cosmopolitan and neonomadic. She is herself blurring boundaries: she integrates real interviews with transcultural writers into a fictional framework established by herself and enriched by travel notes of her own. In addition, she offers, based on her impressive acquaintance with theoretical studies, a comprehensive account of today's transnational dynamics in the context of increased mobility, diversity and plurality with a special focus on transpatriation, i.e the double figure of moving beyond one's native culture and unlearning ways of identity formation which rely too heavily on ethnicity, nationality, locality, etc. She explores the role of transcultural literature – with its ethical motivation to recognize and represent Others – within the domain of contemporary world literature(s), and she rightly suggests that comparative studies ought to start seeing things through a transcultural lens. A fascinating and pioneering study." – Wolfgang Welsch, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
“Starting from the idea that we live in an age of increasing interconnectedness, the book focuses on the biographical experiences and literary outputs of a group of culturally mobile writers it defines as transcultural. The text combines a wide-ranging and systematic theoretical approach to transcultural literature with a section in which the author recounts imaginatively the in-depth interviews she had with five authors. The work is a significant contribution
to scholarship for it increases our theoretical awareness of today’s literary developments, providing us with critical tools that enable us to approach literary texts with an innovative perspective.”
Maurizio Ascari, Università di Bologna
Book review in Symploke (2015):
“The writers Dagnino celebrates defy the usual academic taxonomies based on nationality, language, and religion. They refuse to be subsumed under categories such as “American literature” or “German literature” or “Muslim literature.” The sole rubric they cannot transcend is the one that Dagnino has invented for them: “Transcultural Writer.” Until that irenic day when all embrace hybridity and fluidity, the category will remain useful and desirable.”
Steven G. Kellman, University of Texas at San Antonio
Book review in Studies in the Novel (2016)
“Categories such as “migrant writer” or “ethnic writer” are undoubtedly restrictive in their analytical capacity and their dependence on a framework of difference. In many cases, the label of “multicultural writer” has a similar corralling effect. Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility offers an alternative lens, applicable to some, though by no means all, writers who have crossed cultures through migration. In bringing together the works of the five writers she selects—an otherwise eclectic grouping spanning continents, cultures, and languages—Dagnino demonstrates that the concept of the transcultural is a significant analytical tool for contemporary readers of world literature.”
Michael Jacklin, University of Wollongong