Memory, Empathy, and Narrative in Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess
This chapter interrogates metanarratives and national history by using memory, both collective and personal, as a site of contestation and resistance in the service of the marginalized. Through a close reading of The Gypsy Goddess, Meena Kandasamy’s debut novel on the historical massacre of Dalit labourers that took place in Kilvenmani, southern India, on Christmas Eve 1968, this chapter examines the dynamic interplay between memory, empathy, and narrative. It demonstrates how the use of an unconventional and self-reflexive narrative mode allows the author to retrieve subaltern South Asian history and simultaneously assert a non-Western, and specifically Tamil, perspective in an English-language novel.
KeywordsMeena kandasamy Kilvenmani massacre Dalit novel Memory History Caste
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