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Writing the voice of the ‘Other’ : Maggie Gee and Antonio Manzini narrating migrant care workers

Di Ciolla, Nicoletta ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1457-1248 and Guarracino, Serena (2022) Writing the voice of the ‘Other’ : Maggie Gee and Antonio Manzini narrating migrant care workers. In: Figures of the migrant : the roles of literature and the arts in representing migration. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature . Routledge, New York, pp. 75-92. ISBN 9781032008806 (hardback); 9781003176213 (ebook)

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Abstract

Through an analysis of two novels that feature migrant live-in carers – My Cleaner (Maggie Gee, 2005) and Orfani bianchi (Antonio Manzini, 2016), set in London and in Rome respectively – this chapter reflects on the potential of narrative fiction to provide views on migration that may counter the defensive, oppositional and isolationist discourse that is prevalent in much political rhetoric in Western countries. The two novels are set against the background of the growing sociocultural phenomenon of foreign live-in carers who are (typically) women paid to look after the very young and the very old members of Western families. The novels subtly sabotage the stereotype of the predatory migrant, based on rigid monolithic models, and on a simplicity principle that rules out nuances, individual experiences and human agency, by presenting an inside view of the life of two migrant carers in their interaction with European families. In their narratives, the authors expose the prejudices and contradictions that characterize the attitudes of many citizens of the ‘first world’ towards these figures in particular, and by extension all migrants, and invite the reader to reflect upon human experience as a continuum, instead of settling for simplified, static and oppositional categorizations.

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