Listening to the refugee: Valeria Luiselli's sentimental activism

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Abstract

Literary sympathy and transnational solidarity are still uncomfortable bedfellows in critical thought about the politics of fiction. This essay reconsiders their relation in the context of writing about refugee crises by examining Valeria Luiselli’s reflexive, self-scrutinizing adoption of the sentimental mode. Her novel Lost Children’s Archive both solicits and repurposes sentimental engagement to stage a deeply self-conscious examination of the politics of compassion. Furthermore, it invites readers who are vigilant toward sympathetic involvement to acknowledge how self-gratifying it can be to turn the rejection of such involvement into an ethical virtue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-417
Number of pages28
JournalMFS - Modern Fiction Studies
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021

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