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Surveying the American TropicsA Literary Geography from New York to Rio$
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Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson, and Lesley Wylie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318900

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318900.001.0001

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Inventing Tropicality: Writing Fever, Writing Trauma in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead and Gardens in the Dunes

Inventing Tropicality: Writing Fever, Writing Trauma in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead and Gardens in the Dunes

Chapter:
(p.75) Inventing Tropicality: Writing Fever, Writing Trauma in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead and Gardens in the Dunes
Source:
Surveying the American Tropics
Author(s):

Hsinya Huang

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318900.003.0004

In this chapter, Hsinya Huang examines the imagined space of the American tropics in Leslie Marmon Silko's novels, Almanac of the Dead and Gardens in the Dunes. Silko represents the tropics as a disturbing place where “torture is endemic” and deadly fever consumes countless indigenous lives. While fever mirrors the hotness of the environment, fever also functions as a metaphor for colonial trauma in the tropical Americas. Both novels chronicle a history of Native American slaughter. Outbreak of epidemic disease and the subsequent famine and drought permeate Silko's tropical narratives, acting out tribal trauma in the land itself. The tropics is a place where tribal and colonial histories intertwine and clash. Almanac of the Dead dramatises fever, famine, drought, and violence, whereas Gardens in the Dunes features herbs for healing and visions for strength. They should be read as twin texts to contest colonial epistemologies and entrenched relations of power and knowledge. As the almanac shows, in water there dwells a regenerative, life-giving power. Fever and drought give way to the healing power of rain clouds, semi-tropical gardens, and flora and fauna of enormous curative energies. In fever and drought is contained a living power, a potential for salvation.

Keywords:   Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead, Gardens in the Dunes, Fever, Trauma, American tropics

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