GUEST BLOG — Exploring the Dynamics of a Diaspora with Julia Zarankin

Dear All,

I am very much looking forward to delving into the world of Caribbean literature, under the guidance of two masterful novels by prize-winning writers Jamaica Kincaid and Edwige Danticat. Here are a few tips to help in your reading and preparation for our discussions.

breath-eyes-memory-book-cover-reduced-2Please make sure you’ve read Annie John and Breath, Eyes, Memory in their entirety before the discussions begin. As you read, take careful notes. I like to underline, highlight and flag important passages in the text with post-it notes. I urge you to annotate passages in the novels that seem particularly relevant or important to some of the themes we’ll be discussing: memory, trauma, and colonialism. Do make a note of anything that puzzles you – we’ll address all of those questions/difficulties during our discussions.

I am particularly excited to teach this class on Caribbean literature because of my longstanding interest in writing in the diaspora. As a writer myself, I explore the dynamics of the Russian-Jewish diaspora in North America. I have published a number of stories and essays in literary magazines across Canada and the U.S. that touch on the émigré experience – stories that are both funny and sad. It will be wonderful to examine these issues, which are so dear to my heart, through the lens of another cultural tradition. Caribbean literature is tremendously rich terrain for exploring themes that will yield vibrant and exciting discussion: we will talk about what it means to be at home, what it means to live in diaspora, and how characters in literature respond to their shifting identities after centuries of colonial rule.

Our class will be discussion-based. I will certainly point out passages that I consider important or curious or particularly puzzling, but discussions are always richer when participants bring their own questions, passions, interests, and curiosity. I look forward to meeting you all and having the pleasure of reading with you!

For more information on our Toronto Pursuits seminar, Caribbean Voices in Diaspora, click here.





Julia Zarankin works as a writer, editor, and lecturer to later life learners about the wonders of literature. She is thrilled to be travelling beyond her usual European suspects and looks forward to exploring her favorite topics – exile, memory, and childhood – through a Caribbean literary lens.

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