Extract from May

Kruger, Naomi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0194-8333 (2019) Extract from May. Roundtable, 2 (1). p. 8.

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Official URL: https://roundtable.ac.uk/articles/abstract/59/


May is a polyphonic novel partly narrated by the eponymous character: a housewife, mother and grandmother in the later stages of dementia. Her voice is necessarily fractured, full of gaps and absences, non-sequiturs, song lyrics, phrases, idioms, confabulations and brief, intense flashes of memory. Woven around her sections are the voices and stories of other characters: her husband, daughter, grandson, and the only Care Assistant she feels she can trust. From a fascination with the unreliability of memory and the challenge of representing this on the page, a number of research questions arose. Who has the right to try to narrate dementia ‘from the inside’? How do you write about the disintegration of language when language is your only tool? How can you avoid reinforcing reductive stereotypes about dementia while also not effacing or trivialising the difficulties and distress the disease often brings? I wanted the structure of the book to echo May’s difficulty in producing a coherent story but also for the book to have enough ‘story’ in it so that readers would care about the characters enough to stick with them, and search, along with May, for answers that may always remain just out of reach.

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