Journal of Romance Studies

Crimes of diction

Language and national belonging in the fiction of Amara Lakhous

Journal of Romance Studies (2015), 15, (2), 1–21.

Abstract

The article offers a study of the use of language in the fiction of Algerian-born writer, Amara Lakhous. It focuses on his two popular novels set in Rome, Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator at Piazza Vittorio (2008) and Divorce, Islamic Style (2012), in which the author describes changes in Italy and in definitions of Italian identity as the country undergoes the threefold process of migration, globalization and European integration. The article argues that the novels adopt a structure that displaces a single authored text and which suggests an authorship that is plurivoce, or plural voiced, and therefore able to overturn the marginalization of migrant voices. Exploring the author’s foregrounding of linguistic practices – including voice, diction, and ethnic labelling – the article engages with Italy’s history of regional, national, and transnational identities to argue that these novels are a postcolonial satire of the tenuous link between language and national belonging in Italy.

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McGuire, Valerie