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A Double-edged Reading of Gourlay’s Children Fiction Books

Neslie Carol Tan


This paper conducts a double-edged reading of Candy Gourlay’s two children’s novels, Tall Story (2010) and Shine (2013). It argues that on the one hand, these two award-winning books empower the “invisible” community of Filipinos in the UK by foregrounding the “subalterns” and narrating (with subtle social commentaries) their migrant motivations and woes. These narratives are further enriched by folkloric and supernatural twists that orient global audiences as well as younger generations of Filipinos abroad on Filipino cultural heritage. On the other hand, the representations embedded in these narratives contain traces of self-orientalism, reinforcing essentializing binary divisions where Filipinos or “Orientals” are stuck with the negative attributes and the “happy endings” also push the minority group further into the margins vis-à-vis the privileged British center. Hence, the kind of visibility accorded to the Filipinos by these market-approved children’s novels may be deemed problematic and the role of Gourlay as an immigrant writer bearing the burden of representation is then explored.


children’s/young adult fiction; Filipinos in the UK; (self-)orientalism; representation; Candy Gourlay

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2017.02814