Digital Forms, Migrant Forms: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah

Bhakti Shringarpure


My article argues that even though the novels, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are print texts, they construct their narratives through a reliance on digital modes such as hypertext, networked identities and elliptical sentence structures. Homegoing is constructed as a set of linked stories about characters who are dispersed across the world, and unaware of their blood lineages because of the rupture caused by the slave trade. Reading this novel can be much like scrolling through a hypertext, a genre that N. Katherine Hayles has described as a narrative that promotes “nonlinear, or more accurately, multilinear reading paths.” Hayles believes that it is usually electronic fiction that allows for such transformations within narratives but I argue that Homegoing's self-fashioning as an infinite network rather than a traditional print text illustrates that narrative transformation can also be observed in a print text that has been birthed in a contemporary media ecology. The aesthetics of fragmentation, ellipsis and dispersal express the elusive nature of national belonging and diasporic identity, a theme that is explored in even further detail in Adichie's Americanah wherein protagonist Ifemelu forces a connection between her many split subjectivities through the creation of an alternative self online. As the novel's longstanding relationship with frameworks of nation comes into contact with cyber-utopian, post-national natures of technology and digital media, Americanah becomes a site where networked identity alternatively interrupts, ruptures, and sometimes re-assembles national identity.


digital, novel, migrant, rhizomatic, networked

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