Empathy and the Phantasmic in Ethnic American Trauma Narratives is a smart and timely book that raises vital questions about the haunting effects of traumatic memory on cultures and individuals. In her sensitive reading of multi-ethnic, cross-cultural representations of the 'other' in literature and film, Setka makes claims for the ways in which inherited trauma and legacies of rupture, disruption, and loss transcend temporality, collapsing past, present, and future. This is an important book that comes at a critical time in global history, one in which social and political institutions bear the weight of competing traumatic histories. In unpacking the layers of memory and trauma, Setka ultimately makes imperative the capacity for empathy and for ethical witnessing.
A vivid engagement with the phantasmic irruptions of historical trauma in contemporary multi-ethnic American fiction. Setka’s book honors the culturally specific, often sacred beliefs and practices that shape these ethnic narratives, as well as their cultivation of cross-ethnic readerly empathy with the pain of others.
Exhaustively researched, Empathy and the Phantasmic in Ethnic American Trauma Narratives, builds on previous studies of literary representations of haunting, generational transfers of traumatic memory, and ethical engagement with the suffering of others and synthesizes numerous theoretical paradigms to offer a useful new approach to this subject matter. Setka’s discussion of phantasmic trauma narratives by American black, Jewish and indigenous writers theorizes how the use of ancient, non-western traditions and epistemologies in these narratives both connect contemporary protagonists to ancestral traumas and build among readers the cultural competency to engender true cross-cultural understanding and empathetic engagement.