Exile Literature?

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Is “The Escape to Myanmar” Exile Literature?

In The Escape to Myanmar I have tried to portray the experience of exile. It is a fictional interpretation of the exile condition. Robert Edwards considers exile to be a psychological experience (‘Exile, Self, and Society’ in Exile in literature ed. María-Inés Lagos Pope, 1988, p. 17) and this is one of the things I have wanted to portray in The Escape to Myanmar.

According to Hungarian author Paul Tabori exile is experienced as a temporary condition:

“As defined by Paul Tabori in his Anatomy of exile, an exile is someone who considers his or her displacement as temporary even though it may last a lifetime, or someone who inhabits one place and remembers or projects the reality of another.”

(Gabriella Ibieta, ’Transcending the culture of exile: Raining backwards’ in Literature and Exile, ed. by David Bevan, Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi B.V, 1990, p. 68)

In The Escape to Myanmar the character Lisa is assured that she is only temporary in Myanmar and she is reluctant to adapt to the local customs. For Lisa exile is a psychological experience. She reacts to the new customs and codes with her whole being. When the teacher Ma Cho Cho suggests that Viktor is like a myanmares Lisa’s pulse starts to beat faster. She feels disgusted with the new way to eat and have a strong desire to return home to Sweden. Her whole being is protesting against the new customs. The character Viktor does not consider his stay in Myanmar as temporary and and the explanation given in the story for this is that he has lived in Myanmar in a previous life.

The character Daniel lives in Myanmar but his mind is always in Sweden, so he inhabits one place and remembers the reality of another, as Tabori mean that exiles do (Gabriella Ibieta, 1990, p. 68).

Since The Escape to Myanmar is a story about displacement, longing for a lost home, adaptedness and maladaptiveness to new customs and codes, I would argue that it is indeed exile literature.

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