“It isn’t their language in which I speak their stories”: Language, memory, and “unforgetting” in Susan Rubin Suleiman’s Budapest diary: In search of the Motherbook and Anca Vlasopolos’s no return address: A memoir of displacement

Source of Publication

a/b: Auto/Biography Studies


© 2016 The Autobiography Society. In this article, the author looks at two representative post-communist autobiographical narratives, Susan Rubin Suleiman’s Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook (1996) and Anca Vlasopolos’s No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement (2000). The author considers the linguistic aspects of accessing a traumatic past and the possibility of successful returns, via another language (English), to the site of memory. The author posits that the narratives aim at restorative gestures of reconstructing the national past along the lines of minority presences and discourses in Hungary and Romania, respectively. Their contributions to the larger post-communist memory work in these two countries become significant through the mediation, from outside the national borders, of alternative memories that challenge a finite, conclusive narrative of the history of communisms in East-Central Europe. By employing English for the articulation of their particular truths, they highlight the new functionality of English as a current lingua franca in a geopolitical space marked by its historical absence.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Szidonia H. Haragos, Zayed University