The Question of Identity in Polish American Fiction of the Early 21st Century
Languages of publication
Compared to other Polish emigrant cohorts, the broadly understood Solidarity emigration to the USA and Canada of the early 1980s occupies a distinctive place. Their literary output produced for the most part in English came quickly and entered the mainstream book market already at the turn of the century. Even though their fiction deployed fairly typical themes of dislocation, emigrant experience and construction of immigrant identity in the receiving country, its uniqueness rests in the two-fold vision of two very closely related generations: the first generation emigrants who left Poland as adults, as well as their children, classified as the generation 1.5, who experienced growing up in two countries. In their semi autobiographical fiction, writers representing the older generation such as Eva Stachniak and Czesław Karkowski, devote much of their work to justifying the decision to emigrate and attempt to position their successful characters within the narrative of the American dream. In contrast, younger generation authors such as Karolina Waclawiak and Dagmara Dominczyk, construct a much darker vision of the fragmented immigrant identity that leaves their fictional characters psychologically fragile. In their struggle, they identify the cause of this suffering in their parents’ choice to leave the home country.
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