Religious Belief and Diaspora in Coetzee’s Youth and Yassin-Kassab’s The Road from Damascus
Keywords:diaspora, spirituality, religion, mental health, immigration
This study focuses on the role that faith plays in immigrants’ lives in the South African novelist John Maxwell Coetzee’s Youth (2002) and the Arab British author Robin Yassin-Kassab’s The Road from Damascus (2008). Specifically, the study analyzes and scrutinizes the faith (lessness)-informed attitudes of the two protagonists toward the various challenges they encounter as diasporic subjects in a society that instills alienation and displacement. Each protagonist goes through an identity crisis triggered by his inability to reach his objectives and goals as Coetzee’s John fails to be the poet he has aspired to be and Sami finds it hard to finish a PhD on Arabic poetry that his late father has encouraged him to pursue. While faith helps Yassin-Kassab’s protagonist to eventually overcome the challenges he faces, faithlessness in Coetzee’s novel deepens the protagonist’s sense of alienation and dislocation as the novel ends on a gloomy note. The study adopts an approach of textual analysis and comparison between the two novels. It also touches upon other fields including religion, history, identity, culture, diaspora, politics, and mental health. It examines the protagonists’ cultural, national, and religious identities based on settling in diasporic communities in relation to the historical backgrounds and the socio-cultural conditions in the homeland and the host country.
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