In a post-9/11 world, the figure of the female suicide bomber has emerged as a contentious figure in global discourse. Through the character of Saraswathi, Nayomi Munaweera’s novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors (2012) foregrounds how the construction of this subaltern figure hinges on her susceptibility to rape. This relationship between rape and suicide bombing is deployed differently by the counterterrorist institutions that target her and the ethnonationalist movements that recruit her to make her speak as both victim and agent while silencing her. This article thus argues that we need to move away from the framework of victimhood and agency, which assumes subjectivity without accounting for how the body of the female subaltern is excluded from inhabiting subjecthood as a construct of bounded national sovereignty. Using Jasbir Puar’s theory of queer assemblage, the author explains how Saraswathi’s suicide bomber in ITM is constructed as a figure of antinormative subjectivity through a discourse of U.S. exceptionalism in opposition to a normative U.S. national identity and sovereignty. The author builds on Puar’s insights, which draw on affect theory, to rethink Saraswathi’s violent protest as a moment that destabilizes these normative identities and their related social scripts. The author further posits alternative visions of antinormative subjectivity in the novel that allow for Saraswathi’s survival after her rape.

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