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Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 Precarity and Survival in Tara June Winch’s After the Carnage
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'The short story genre is particularly well suited to capturing ‘fragmentation, displacement, diaspora and identity’, according to Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell (3). This claim seems to be borne out in a number of recent collections of Australian short stories by writers of nonmainstream backgrounds whose stories focus on exactly these issues. Examples include Nam Le’s The Boat (2008), Roanna Gonsalves’s The Permanent Resident (2016), Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil (2014) and Tara June Winch’s After the Carnage (2016), the latter being the focus of this essay. All of these writers display an awareness in their stories of ‘entangled histories that precede and exceed imperial and national formations’, to quote Dilip M. Menon (38). Menon, writing about the Global South and using Édouard Glissant’s term, ‘archipelagic thinking’, coined in relation to the Caribbean, further explicates this kind of thinking as generative of ‘maps of affinities’ that recognise ‘the fact that identities are conjunctural and oscillate between narrower and wider imaginings … between local identities and international ones’ (40). This essay takes up the concept of alliances and ‘maps of affinities’ as they are represented in and by Winch’s short story collection. Winch is an Indigenous Australian writer of Wiradjuri, Afghan, and English heritage who is now based in France. Even this brief biographical information draws attention to the mobility of contemporary global identities and the shifting nature of national identification. Winch’s own physical distance from Australia (she currently lives in Europe) has, she has suggested in an interview, been helpful for her writing, enabling an outsider’s view that has involved ‘searching for [her] story amongst other people’s stories’ (‘After the Carnage’ n.p.). In dialogue with these fluid national identities and entangled histories are issues of intersectionality where race, class and gender impact on the themes of violence, disadvantage and precarity that bring different minoritised constituencies into proximity with each other. Winch, I argue, thematises the ways in which violence, gender, race, class and precarity may be seen to be intertwined. At the same time, her stories reveal moments of survival and resilience in the precarious lives of their characters. In writing not just of the Australian nation but also of the transnation(al), her stories draw attention to cross-cultural affiliations as well as to the ongoing inequalities that beset marginalised groups. Menon’s concept of ‘maps of affinities’ is thus a useful lens through which to view these stories. This term aptly engages the ways in which Winch, in this collection, addresses the ‘conjunctural’ (40) interactions between the global and local, reminding readers of the ongoing global after-effects of colonisation, and the ways in which violence and survival are common to both.' (Introduction)

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