Spaces of in-between-ness and unbelonging : the hotel in short stories by Sefi Atta and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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CitationToivanen Anna-Leena. (2017). Spaces of in-between-ness and unbelonging : the hotel in short stories by Sefi Atta and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. English Studies in Africa, 60 (1) , 1-11. 10.1080/00138398.2017.1326565.
The figure of the migrant has become a paradigmatic representative of globalised postcoloniality. Yet, not all ‘postcolonial’ mobilities can be equated with migration. Cases in point are the travelling African protagonists of two diasporic Nigerian short stories, Sefi Atta’s ‘Housekeeping’ (2010) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Transition to Glory’ (2006). The short stories feature the figures of the African leisure traveller, tourist, and, in particular, hotel guest. The hotel articulates different dimensions of a site that is frequently conceived, both in fiction and in theory, as a place and symbol of in-between-ness, deviance and displacement. In ‘Housekeeping’, the hotel serves as a setting for exploring the socio-economic differences between migrant travellers and symbolises a sense of diasporic unbelonging. In ‘Transition to Glory’, the hotel room is used as a setting and symbol for an adulterous relationship. It comes across as a space of deviance which is not properly inscribed either in the private/domestic or the public. While set in spaces of in-between-ness and transit, both texts articulate metaphorical senses of longing for home. By analysing the literary representation of the hotel trope, this article contributes to widening the scope of how postcolonial mobilities can be understood.