Abstract

In The Fisher King, Paule Marshall depicts urban spatial and social relations that resonate with the psychic and social ruptures of the African Diaspora. The novel’s central characters comprise a blended family with Southern African American and Caribbean roots. They reckon with problems of social marginalization, alienation, and fragmentation, engendered by their various experiences of dislocation. While mindful of the diverse histories, values, and worldviews within black America’s heterogeneous collectivity, Marshall ultimately privileges black women’s perspectives on the limits and possibilities of traversing geographic and social spaces. Hattie Carmichael, the “City child” who occupies the moral center of the novel, embodies practices of cultural improvisation, self-determination, and intersubjective reciprocity; practices that make it possible for diasporic subjects to claim and assign meaning to the places and spaces that they inhabit.

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