Articulating the Exodus: Place and Memory in Vietnamese American Women Writers' Novels


  • Yu-yen Liu Huafan University


This paper aims to negotiate the conceptual tensions within and between “memory” and “place.” To address the differing terrain of complex nexus between place, memory and emotion, the paper explores three Vietnamese American autobiographical novels, Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge (1997), Dao Strom’s Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003); and lê thi diem thúy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For (2003) to investigate the significance of spatial rhetorics, affect, and locational politics in the constructions of memories. The paper acknowledges the fact that not only temporal but also spatial dimensions structure identifications. “Geopolitics of memory” will be argued in this paper to highlight the politics of location characterized by the rhetoric of borders, interstices, and especially mobility. As an endeavor to explore Asian American literary texts from a more productive perspective, this paper will argue that research on transnationality needs to focus beyond material flows, to move to the “non-material” conditions which underpin and foster transnational networks and identities. Affective attachment, affective spatialities and transnationality, for example, are areas of studies in need of further investigation. This paper will ultimately highlight the way that these Vietnamese American women writers narrate about the pasts provide sites for examining relationships between national locations, transnational linkages, affective mapping and memory, which is where some of the crucial contemporary issues converge.