Accepted Paper:

Literature and the making of home(land): transnational fictions of home in Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip  


Stella Butter (University of Koblenz-Landau)

Paper short abstract:

In my paper, I will use Lloyd Jones's novel Mister Pip (2006) as a case study to explore the connections between literary narratives and transcultural practices of home making. Jones's postcolonial novel presents itself as a model for the creation of an ideal transcultural home.

Paper long abstract:

Literature plays a vital role in cultural constructions of 'home' because the place we call 'home' is made by the stories we tell. In my paper, I explore the uses of literature for translating cultural imaginaries of home by focusing on Lloyd Jones's award-winning novel Mister Pip (2006) as a case study. Jones's novel offers a particularly intriguing exploration of the connections between literary narratives and transcultural practices of home making because it depicts how the reading and hybrid re-telling of a canonical Western text, Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, becomes an imaginary home and refuge for children during the war-ridden years in Bougainville. My central thesis is that the novel contrasts a traditional notion of home, which is marked by mechanisms of exclusion, with a literary model of home allowing dialogic openness towards alterity and thus transcultural communication. This latter model of home is embodied by a hybrid form of postcolonial literature, i.e. by Jones's novel itself. In my analysis of the two contrasting models of home and their implications for cultural encounters, I tease out the manifold dimensions of home and its multi-scalar nature by showing how the transnational circulation and creative appropriation of Dickens's story, as staged in Jones's text, favours a cosmopolitan sense of place and homeland. As one character in the novel aptly puts it, "[s]tories have a job to do", and the ways in which literature fulfills its 'job' of offering imaginary transcultural homes and homelands is a central concern in Mister Pip.

Panel P49
Translating cultural imaginaries of home: near-homes and far-homes