Volume 5, 2014
Narratives of Legitimation in Totalitarian Regimes – Heroes, Villains, Intrigues and Outcomes
Topographies of Identity and Memory: Berlin’s “Ghosts” and “Book of Clouds” by Chloe Aridjis
The focus of this study is the city of Berlin as a site of contested spaces and its representations in the novel Book of Clouds (2009) by Chloe Aridjis. As a number of recent books on Berlin have indicated, the ongoing efforts to physically re-configure historical sites in the city and construct a new post-unification identity for the capital and the nation has produced dissonance between long-standing national narratives of identity and the challenges presented by new identity narratives. The foundation of cultural identity, social memory, is political, shaped and wielded by those in power. Yet, as Michel de Certeau has posited, such power can be contested at the street level where ruptures can be observed. Book of Clouds, the first novel by transnational author Chloe Aridjis, explores the relationship of identity and memory as Tatiana, a young Mexican Jewish woman living in Berlin in the first decade of the twenty-first century, observes and interacts with the city and its inhabitants from an outsider’s perspective.