chapter  7
Who speaks for the victim?
Experiences of migrants and refugees in Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Go, Went, Gone and Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair
ByOdile Heynders
Pages 23

Migration can be considered the most urgent issue the European Union currently has to deal with. This chapter proposes two claims in this context. First, it is argued that many European literary authors take a critical position of identification when framing migrants as victims of political circumstances and economic scarcity. The writers represent and imagine the conditions in which migrants live and decide to travel without conveniences, ID papers or concrete perspectives, and they make it possible to identify with various individuals by describing typical migrant trajectories and experiences. Second, it is contended that the knowledge that is provided by literary texts on migrant experiences can be used in interdisciplinary research on migration and contributes to the societal reframing of migrants in making an affective request to human solidarity and awareness. The chapter focuses on two contemporary novels, Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone (2015) and Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair (2005).