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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 13, 2019

Silence as an Interlocutor in the Diaspora: Olumide Popoola’s this is not about sadness

  • Jamele Watkins EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


This article analyzes silences in the novella this is not about sadness. Using theories of community building by Fatima El-Tayeb, opacity from Édouard Glissant, and theories by Popoola herself, my work argues for the generative way silences function. Silence interweaves the text in community of women and PoCs who create healing and community in shared trauma. Further, the novella articulates diasporic space through language. The use of language is complimented by multiple silences; silences occur when recalling trauma. Violence against Black women looms as trauma occurs in and around the piece, but the novella rejects a narrative of trauma (considering even the title). The narrator continues to exert agency as she continues to narrate the story after her death; just because her life is over, the story is not over. In a novella centering around women, Popoola’s diasporic story also allows for silence; the novella rejects the notion that words are necessary. Featuring multiple narrators, this novella embodies the struggle of and for language as well its emergence in a relational community.

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Received: 2018-08-21
Accepted: 2018-12-14
Published Online: 2019-05-13
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Jamele Watkins, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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