Into the Interior
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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