Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reading Narratives of Adoption

At Conducive Magazine, an interview with author and scholar Marianne Novy, introduced as follows:
Misunderstandings and misconceptions continue to surround adoption. Especially critical is the idea of secrecy. Jennifer Kwon Dobbs had the opportunity to talk to Professor Marianne Novy about these issues. Marianne Novy was born in 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was raised there by her adoptive parents, whom she joined when one month old. A pioneer in the field of adoption studies, Novy is the author of Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama and Imagining Adoption: Essays on Literature and Culture. She has been instrumental in developing adoption and literature as a critical area of literary study. She is also the co-founder of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture (ASAC).
A few passages that struck me:

Actually, there are many kinds of secret histories involved in adoptions. Some information is suppressed by closed records. Most birthparents have not discussed their experience. But additionally, while celebrity transnational adoptions make the newspapers, not that many people can imagine what it is really like to grow up as a transnational adoptee or a transracial adoptee. And adoptive parents also are likely to have many experiences that the general image of adoption doesn’t prepare them for.

* * *

In my book in progress on outsiders, I will discuss Shakespeare’s bastards as well as Othello and Shylock. And I expect to put together a book of my writing on recent memoirs and novels about adoption. In Reading Adoption, I discussed a lot of novels and plays that simplified an adoptee’s experience and suggested that only one set of parents counted. There have been a lot more recent works that give a more complicated picture. I’m thinking of novels like Gish Jen’s The Love Wife, or Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints or Ann Patchett’s Run. Or memoirs like Catherine McKinley’s The Book of Sarahs or A. M. Homes’ The Mistress’ Daughter. I’ll write about these in a book eventually, I hope.

I've added the books mentioned to my reading list!

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