The Red River: writing and re-living traumatic past
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The Red River is envisaged to be a novel that explores trauma – an event so shocking that it shatters the victim and his or her world view –its impact and legacy. It unfolds the fictional lives of people living in poor, war-torn Serbia, all carrying the baggage of their own suffering. Through this novel, I explore the following questions: How does one overcome trauma from the past? Is redemption in an oppressed society possible? Do people need to leave their family, or escape their country, to forget the unforgettable? Without marking this thesis as “traumatic literature” or a “magic realist novel”, I discuss these two contemporary literature modes and provide an overview of the novels – whose common thread is traumatic experience – which influenced my writing. After reading Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Condé's I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem – and immigrating to New Zealand to escape the memories of the wars, hunger, and repression – I had no other choice but to set my novel in the milieu of the mysterious and ordinary, the nauseating and gentle, the dream-like and real.