Loss of Home and Loathing Nostalgia in the English Writings of Central and Eastern European Exiles

  • Abstract:

    Writers who are forced into exile by a hostile government tend to suffer from the grievances of loss and deprivation. They look back in nostalgia. After 1989 leaving Central and Eastern European homes was not only a free decision, but even an act of liberation. Leaving had not been an easy option before the Iron Curtain had come down.  Changing one’s language and writing in English represented this act of liberation. Creating a new memory (e. g. Eva Hoffman) and a literary persona in the language of globalization and cosmopolitanism meant to look back and to discover the new at the same time.  The talk investigates this tension by reading writers who have published books about both their former home countries and their new English speaking environments. Loathing nostalgia in the creative process of writing has helped authors, such as Bulgarian Kapka Kassabova and Czech Jan Novak, to imagine new spaces of cosmopolitan belonging without being in denial about the places of their childhood thus redefining the concept of Eastern Europe altogether.