Intersecting Memory and Witnessing Violence in Anita Desai’s The Zigzag Way

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Jain, Bhawana
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This essay engages with the juxtaposition of two disparate violent past events: the Holocaust, and the Mexican Revolution, which led to the forced displacement of the diasporic characters in Anita Desai’s novel The Zigzag Way. It explores various ways in which the violent past resurfaces in the present and enables different migrant characters of the novel to bear witness to it by using tropes such as ruin, dreams and spectres. The essay also demonstrates subtle and complex intersections among different memory theories to articulate victimisation and enforced silence of the displaced and traumatized characters. It also investigates the role of fiction in depicting the ‘unspeakable’ horrors of the tumultuous past and the readers’ as well as the characters’ implication in it as secondary witnesses.
Anita Desai, Holocaust, Mexican revolution, The Zigzag Way