Cannibals and survivors : narrative strategies in third culture literature : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Creative Writing at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
In this thesis I look at the narrative strategies at work in my own fiction, The Glass House, and also those at work in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and examine both in light of the context of third culture literature. Sociologically, the term “third culture” describes those people who are raised outside their passport nations as children, in multiple countries, as expats rather than immigrants. Antje M. Rauwerda takes this term from a sociological context and applies it to a literary one and, in doing so, identifies several key concerns which unite third culture fictions. While Rauwerda focuses specifically on these concerns as representing distinct characteristics in third culture literature that set it apart from other international literatures, my project is focused on how these characteristics manifest themselves through particular narrative strategies in both my own work and that of Martel’s.
To conduct my research I look at the construction of third culture narratives from the perspective of both writer and reader. By writing Part 1 of The Glass House, I am able to examine narrative strategies through the writing process itself. Through a critical reading of Martel’s Life of Pi, I am able to unpick the results and effects of these strategies as a reader. In “Cannibals and Survivors,” I argue that by critically examining these strategies, it is possible to see that the freedom to pick and choose the narratives we consume (and how) comes with specific implications for those who have their feet in multiple worlds.