In this paper, Christine Okoth (University of Warwick) discusses the poet and novelist Renee Gladman, reading her focus on materiality as an attempt at expanding the experiential capacities of language relating, in particular, to the sense of confusion, displacement, and isolation that comes with being a stranger. In Event Factory – the first of the Ravicka novels – Gladman’s protagonist experiences Ravicka as a visitor with limited language skills and only a rudimentary understanding of the city’s geography. Throughout, the protagonist’s marginalization manifests through her unsettling encounters with words that have taken on material form: she attempts to scoop up language like water, eats pages of written texts as part of a stew, and can only refer to the creeping, dangerous silence that engulfs the city as smoke. This paper therefore reads Event Factory – and Gladman’s body of work – as an exercise in exploring the material composition of linguistic isolation.
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