According to writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, popular narratives fail to capture these salient aspects of refugees’ lives. Instead, refugees stories’ are “invisible” until they are “hypervisible…forgotten by those who are not refugees until they turn into a menace.”
Mukasonga makes no profound declarations about the impacts of conflict or sweeping statements about the loss of tradition or lifestyle. Rather, she shows us these phenomena through speaking to the subtle erosion of positions in carefully curated systems and how the properties of these systems begin to diminish as circumstance alters livelihoods.
Through fiction, not only do we learn about external circumstances and power differentials that shape the paths of groups of people, we learn about an individual’s internal calculus and instantaneous decision-making in ways that they often cannot communicate to even their family members.
Vargas Llosa and Alvarez’s usage of the fictional format emboldens them to catalog the mindset of an array of individuals during this period and record how living under an authoritarian regime fundamentally changes people’s psychological realities, decision-making processes, and relationships.
Through her work, Adichie seeks to dismantle the pervasive “single story” of Africa, arguing that “stories have been used to dispossess and malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.” This urgency and desire to provide a more nuanced narrative and amplify the voices of the unheard is easily apparent in Adichie’s 2006 novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
“This is what Sanctuary Kitchen brings to the community: a sense of belonging and family.”