March 15, 2014
Edward Said’s Out of Place serves to address the double nature of a person’s extraterritoriality in life and in autobiographical texts whose subjects have migrated from their place of origin in the East to the West and define themselves with reference to American culture and politics. The African-Caribbean writer Michelle Cliff, a naturalized American citizen, uses her first two autobiographical novels, Abeng (1984) and No Telephone to Heaven (1987), to reconnect with her Caribindian past and her native island of Jamaica through stays in the US and England. The Turkish-German writer Feridun Zaimoglu, often labeled the “Malcolm X of German Turks,” creates from his extraterritorial existence a new cultural space in Kanak Sprak (1995) or Kopf und Kragen (2001) whose political platform derives from the situation of American minority groups. Edward Said, in turn, provides in Out of Place (1999) the biographical data behind his theoretical discussions of extraterritoriality and cultural imperialism and reconceptualizes the ‘Orient’ from his position as comparative literary critic in New York. All three writers seem to find a place in the genre of autobiography which they remodel commensurate with their extraterritorial existence.