Embracing Darkness and Silence: A Cognitive Reading of Trauma in A Small Silence, by Jumoke Verissimo
AbstractThe purpose of the present article is to discuss how A Small Silence (2019), by the Nigerian author Jumoke Verissimo, conjures up a provocative approach to traumatic memories. The tropes of silence and darkness—closely bound to the Nigerian context where power outages are frequent—are sensuously explored in evocative prose. Darkness is offered as a refuge against the blinding effect of light, and silence is oftentimes preferred to healing through narrativisation. Desire and Prof, the two main fictional characters, devise a peculiar dialogue of half-uttered and unspoken words—and reminiscences—that are arguably in tune with cognitive literary approaches to individual trauma. In addition, in this article an Oriental aesthetics is deployed to delineate the novel’s use of shadows and isolation. In contrast to classical trauma fiction, A Small Silence presents a less experimental literary narrative of individual trauma. At the same time, the novel rejects simplistic binaries such as trauma-health, dark-light, forgetfulness-memory and mind-body. Rather, it lingers in a space between individual healing and Nigeria’s intricate neocolonial circumstances.
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