Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Junot Díaz's decolonial love

In this two-part interview in The Boston Review, Junot Díaz says:
In Oscar Wao we have a family that has fled, half-destroyed, from one of the rape incubators of the New World and they are trying to find love. But not just any love. How can there be “just any love” given the history of rape and sexual violence that created the Caribbean—that Trujillo uses in the novel? The kind of love that I was interested in, that my characters long for intuitively, is the only kind of love that could liberate them from that horrible legacy of colonial violence. I am speaking about decolonial love.
One of the arguments that the book makes about Oscar is that he ain’t getting laid because he’s fat and nerdy. That might be part of it, but that is also a way of hiding other possibilities. Perhaps one of the reasons Oscar ain’t getting laid is because he is the son of a survivor of horrific sexual violence. In the same way that there is intergenerational transfer of trauma from mothers who are rape victims to their daughters, there is also intergenerational transfer of rape trauma between mothers and their sons. But most readers don’t notice how Oscar embodies some of the standard reactions of young rape victims to their violations. Many women in the aftermath of sexual violence put on weight—in some cases as an attempt to make themselves as unattractive as possible. Oscar isn’t fat just to be fat—at least not in my head. His fatness was partially a product of what’s going on in the family in regards to their bodies, in regards to the rape trauma.

For me, the family fukú is rape. The rape culture of the European colonization of the New World—which becomes the rape culture of the Trujillato (Trujillo just took that very old record and remixed it)—is the rape culture that stops the family from achieving decolonial intimacy, from achieving decolonial love.

At a time when I am moving between hectically different kinds of writing, and adjusting my mental lens to take in different textures of thought and language, this interview just had me in a puddle of gratitude and joy. When Díaz writes, talks or responds to questions, I want to make it all pause so I can take in the sheer dazzle. (via Aisha )

Oh, and for more Junotlove, please see this from some time ago.

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