Forget Modesty – Here Comes the Tail: Abject Bodies, Post-Humanistic Philosophy and Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl

Susanne Wegener
In Volume 2, Issue 1
Special Issue: Bodies

Abstract

Clearly influenced by Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytics of abjection and a feminist, post-humanistic philosophy of multiplicity and becoming in the wake of Spinoza and Gilles Deleuze, Larissa Lai uses the abject and abjection - defined by George Bataille as ‘the inability to assume with sufficient strength the imperative act of excluding abject things’ - as key tropes in Salt Fish Girl. Lai’s negotiation of abjection is, however, not limited to the diegetic world of her novel. As a writer who also publishes critical work on minority writing and the politics of representation, Larissa Lai has commented on Salt Fish Girl extensively and in a way that disrupts conventional textual boundaries. Accordingly, this article not only addresses Lai’s depiction of abject bodies and processes of abjection within her novel, but also the astonishing amount of paratextual comment the Asian Canadian author has produced while self-consciously circulating her own body as an Asian abject defined by the discourse of Canadian state multiculturalism. It takes a closer look at the political implications of the highly ambivalent, queer narration, the abject textual body comprised of the novel’s text, and the enormous ‘tail’ of its verbal and performative authorial paratext.

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