Into the Interior

Overview

In her previous novels, Michelle Cliff explored potent themes of colonialism, race, myth, and identity with rare intelligence, lyrical intensity, and a profound sense of both history and place. Now, with Into the Interior, she has written her most intimate, courageous work of fiction yet, a searing and ultimately moving reflection on the legacy of empire and the restless search for a feeling of belonging.

 

“I grew up to be someone adept at leaving,” confesses Into the ...

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Overview

In her previous novels, Michelle Cliff explored potent themes of colonialism, race, myth, and identity with rare intelligence, lyrical intensity, and a profound sense of both history and place. Now, with Into the Interior, she has written her most intimate, courageous work of fiction yet, a searing and ultimately moving reflection on the legacy of empire and the restless search for a feeling of belonging.

 

“I grew up to be someone adept at leaving,” confesses Into the Interior’s unnamed narrator, a bisexual Caribbean woman of color, and Cliff traces her travels from Jamaica to New York to London. Educated in admiration for Western culture—she goes to London to study art history—she penetrates further and further into its emotional shadow life in an attempt to overcome her own deep sense of displacement. Reversing the journey Joseph Conrad’s Marlow took from the imperial capital to a colonial outpost, she discovers a “heart of darkness” in the former capital of the British Empire. Moving among its fragmented personalities and social life, she witnesses—and experiences—its propensity for racism and homophobia, misogyny and abusive patriarchy, hypocrisy and sadism.

 

Deftly shifting between present and past, between a childhood in Jamaica—her memories, both disconcerting and humor-tinged, beautifully rendered by Cliff’s elliptical prose—and her purposeful wanderings as an adult that result in intellectual, sexual, and political awakenings, Into the Interior is both deeply personal and charged by a world-historical awareness of the persistent injustices that colonialism imposes on its former subjects.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ten connected stories from Cliff (Everything is Now) pursue the coming-of-age of an unnamed, Jamaican-born young woman finding her way from New York to London. Born to a mixed-raced family with old Victorian roots whose affluence is clearly dwindling, the girl of "Points of Departure" learns by age 10 how to "retreat" from great-grandmotherly admonitions for her own self-preservation. After the death of her depressed mother, and estranged from her distant, philandering father, the narrator comes by a "sense of things unexpectedly" in a Christian boarding school, and, while en route to graduate school in England in "Below the Waterline," she has a momentous lesbian encounter with Bex, who tells a ghastly tale of being attacked by hateful sorority sisters. In "Marooned," the narrator moves somewhat awkwardly among her student colleagues, gradually becoming politicized, especially by the anti-apartheid movement. Finally, the last two tales find a poignant convergence of the narrator's life and those who struggled before her. By rending the membrane between past and present, Cliff finds serene closure to these subtle, cautiously fashioned tales.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816669790
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2010
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Michelle Cliff has lectured at many universities and was the Allan K. Smith Professor of English Language and Literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of If I Could Write This in Fire (Minnesota, 2008); Everything Is Now: New and Collected Stories (Minnesota, 2009); and the acclaimed novels Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, and Free Enterprise. She lives in California.

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Table of Contents

I, 1. Points of Departure, 2. Lying-in, 3. Among the Christian Diabolists, 4. Below the Waterline, 5. Marooned, II, 6. Night Nursery, 7. Rex & Queenie, 8. The Joy of Cooking, III, 9. Runagate, 10. Confluence

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