For Bhanu Kapil, the drafting process of writing involves the translation of non-linguistic realities into storytelling, the nature of which must leave room for the performative experience that shapes writing. In Schizophrene (2011), Kapil engaged in adventitious composition processes when she sealed her manuscript in a Ziploc bag and threw it in the garden to spend months outdoors in the Colorado winter. The text, full of gaps created by the erased parts of the “winterized” manuscript, documents schizophrenia in diasporic Indian and Pakistani communities. The decaying process of the book that created a void in her writing also impacts the narrative’s own exploration of white space, gaps, syntactic experimentation, and fragmentation. These elements attempt to translate the experience of Kapil’s family and the effect of colonization on immigrants. The initial “failed” document attests to the impossibility of telling the story of women’s inter-generational trauma inherited from postcolonial and patriarchal violence. Translating these elements into a new form of narration relies on the refusal to reproduce old narrative patterns inherited from Western and patriarchal modes of writing. Instead, resisting traditional plot structures, Kapil pays close attention to repetition and association: they echo, verbally, the “light touch,” which “regular and impersonally repeated” is healing, “for non-white subjects (schizophrenics) as anti-psychotic medication” (71). Consequently, this mode of writing proposes yet another level of translation, one that focuses on the information that comes from bodies and its transfer into the physical form of texts. While Schizophrene is not literally a translation, it involves a multi-layered engagement of what can be translated from the trauma of the multigenerational oppression of women.
Chevaillier, Flore. 2023. "Translation, Weather, and Erasure in Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene." Journal of Feminist Scholarship 23 (Fall): 39-51. 10.23860/jfs.2023.23.04.
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