Representations of Ageing and Black British Identity in Andrea Levy’s Every Light in the House Burnin’and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight

Beyer, Charlotte (2012) Representations of Ageing and Black British Identity in Andrea Levy’s Every Light in the House Burnin’and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight. Entertext, 9. pp. 105-121. ISSN 1472 3085

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Abstract

The article focuses on representations of ageing and black British identity in Andrea Levy’s Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994) and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight (1987). Offering a comparative analysis of representations of ageing experiences for the first Windrush generation, I explore areas of these two texts that have received relatively little attention from critics. Specifically focusing on representations of ageing and the body, and on uses of memory in story-telling, the article examines the use of memory writing in the novels, suggesting this discourse as a subjective means by which individuals may (re)connect with and recast their personal and collective histories of race, class, and gender marginalisation. I examine the ways in which Levy and Riley’s novels document the voices and life stories of ageing black British men and women, using a fictional form, thereby creating spaces for those hitherto marginalised accounts and characters in contemporary British fiction. The article furthermore analyses Levy and Riley’s portrayals of ageing characters, their relationship to families and communities, and their exhausting and difficult struggle to reject victimisation whilst retaining subjective agency and personal dignity. In their representations of ageing and the body, Levy and Riley explore the impact of illness, isolation, loss of social status, and the treatment of elderly black British individuals by the health system and local communities. In conclusion, both novels reject the story of silenced victimhood for their ageing characters by foregrounding intergenerational connections as a celebration of continuity that sustains postcolonial and black British identities.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Liberal and Performance Arts > Literary and Critical Studies
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Charlotte Beyer
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2014 14:38
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2016 11:07
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/744

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