Writing the Roaming Subject: The Biotext in Canadian Literature
Engaging current debates within the studies of life writing and of the nation-state, Writing the Roaming Subject focuses on a group of Canadian writers who pose questions about cultural difference and national identity while writing about their own lives and their own experiences of displacement. Joanne Saul uses the term 'biotext' to describe the unique form of writing that challenges critical practices regarding both life writing and immigrant and ethnic minority writing by blurring the borders of biography, autobiography, history, fiction and theory, as well as poetry, prose, and visual representation.
In her readings of selected contemporary Canadian biotexts - including Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, Daphne Marlatt's Ghost Works, Roy Kiyooka's Mothertalk, and Fred Wah's Diamond Grill - Saul suggests that by crossing generic boundaries, these works illuminate the complex relationships between language, place, and self as they are manifested in textual form. Writing the Roaming Subject explores issues of identity formation, representation, and resistance in Canada and suggests that these are particularly crucial questions during a period of Canadian literary history when so many writers are insisting on new, more diverse cultural performances that resist the pull of the national imaginary.