chapter  11
“Separateness and Connectedness”: Generational Trauma and the Ethical Impulse in Anne Karpf’s The War After: Living with the Holocaust
Pages 17

To begin with, The War After should be contextualised within the proliferation of life-writing in its diff erent manifestations and the growing critical concern with autobiographical genres (Marcus 179; France and Saint Clair) that runs parallel to the emergence of trauma studies in the 1990s. The trauma critic Roger Luckhurst has described the phenomenon as a “memoir boom” (117), while Leigh Gilmore has asserted that the “memoir has become the genre” of the new millennium (1, emphasis in original). This recent phenomenon has created a variety of subgenres, such as autobiography, literary biography, autofi ction, memoir, autobiografi ction, biomythography (Marcus 179; Henke xvi). Alison Light and Roger Luckhurst are two of the many critics who believe that these new autobiographical genres usually tackle challenging aspects concerning the narrativisation of unspeakable individual and collective traumas. In keeping with this, Victoria Stewart has focussed exclusively on autobiographical works written by women in direct relation to the two world wars and the Holocaust, and she explains that many women writers of the twentieth century have dealt “in narrative terms, with recovering and recording the events through which they have passed” (10). This should be related to the fact that the last decades have become the time when “marginalized groups

and marginalized experiences have claimed their space among the body of autobiographical narratives” (Hammel 121); that is, diff erent minority sectors of society have chosen the autobiographical mode to voice their traumatic experiences of suff ering and alienation. However, their works had gone almost unnoticed until the emergence of this recent critical interest in autobiography.