Embedded Narrative and the Ethical Im/possibility of 'Giving Voice' in the Age of Refugee Migration: Henning Mankell's THE SHADOW GIRLS

Gabriele Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article centres on a figure generated by war and conflict, that of the refugee, in a contemporary novel, Henning Mankell’s The Shadow Girls, first translated into English in 2012. It explores the use of a specific narratological device, embedded narrative, as a strategy to “give voice” to refugee girls. Mankell’s novel is of particular salience for contemporary conflict-related migration into Europe as it explores the dilemma of how to respond to the refugee crisis in an ethical manner. As such it constitutes an imaginative and narratologically complex intervention in the construction of refugee narratives. In this article I draw on the narratological theories of Gérard Genette and Mieke Bal, and the theoretical writings of Arjun Appadurai (2006, 2009), Paul Ricoeur (1990) and Emmanuel Levinas (1961, 1972). It argues that in The Shadow Girls Mankell critiques notions of “giving voice” as adequate to the plight of refugees through his use of particular narrative devices.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1–18
JournalOp. Cit.: Revista de Estudos Anglo-Americanos / A Journal of Anglo-American Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • refugee narrative
  • embedded narrative
  • ethical writing

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