Ancestral Voices, Healing Narratives: Female Ghosts in Contemporary US and Caribbean Fiction examines four novels by Erna Brodber, Zoé Valdés, Sandra Cisneros, and Maryse Condé. In this unique comparative analysis, Kristina S. Gibby explores the significance of female ghosts—specifically maternal figures, who haunt female narrators, inspiring them to transcribe the dead’s obfuscated (hi)stories and recover their family memory. The author argues that these female ghosts subvert historiographic power structures through a matrilineal succession of knowledge via oral traditions of storytelling, inevitably broadening historical consciousness and asserting the value of fiction in the face of historical rupture. Gibby contends that in form and content, these novels disrupt patriarchal and Western expectations of time and epistemology. They favor cyclical temporality (highlighted by the spirits’ uncanny return), which underscores relational understanding and challenges the exclusive and limiting constraints of linear time. This book makes important contributions to inter-American literary criticism with its narrow focus on female authors who confront the horrors of history through maternal spirits.
Kristina S. Gibby is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Utah Valley University.
Introduction: Phantom Ache: Ghosts, Fiction, and Alternative Histories
Chapter One: Ghosts in New World Literature
Chapter Two: “Anthropology of the Dead”: Ghosts, Subaltern Knowledge, and Alternative History in Louisiana
Chapter Three: Haunting and Affect: Ghosts and Nostalgia in Te di la vida entera and Caramelo
Chapter Four: Haunting, History, and Imagination in Victoire
About the Author
“Sensitively argued and meticulously researched, Ancestral Voices, Healing Narratives makes a valuable contribution to the literary reappraisal of memory and trauma. Through a comprehensive analysis of female ghosts in contemporary US and Caribbean fiction, Kristina Gibby provides an innovative, and ultimately empowering, lens for coming to terms with a traumatic past and finding a path to healing.”
“Ancestral Voices, Healing Narratives: Female Ghosts in Contemporary US and Caribbean Fiction offers an innovative way of reading the authors Maryse Condé, Erna Brodber, Sandra Cisneros and Zoé Valdés. By providing a meditation on the multiple ways texts can be inhabited, Kristina Gibby allows us to see the traces of both trauma and healing that connect female authors from the US and the Caribbean. The result is a spectrally vibrant account of literary spiritual voices whose imaginaries of history, time, and memory are rich, rebellious, and complicated.”