Approaching Imaginative Mobilities through Rhythms of the City and the Body in Edwidge Danticat’s “New York Day Women”

Sigrid Thomsen, University of Vienna, Austria

In Edwidge Danticat’s short story “New York Day Women” from her collection Krik? Krak!, a young woman spots her mother, who she had assumed never left Brooklyn, in Manhattan, and starts to clandestinely follow her. This plot of the daughter trailing behind her mother is juxtaposed with vignettes in which the daughter remembers things her mother has said. Drawing on Lefebvrian rhythmanalysis, Caribbean theories of rhythms, and Mobility Studies, this paper analyzes how two types of mobility clash and intersect – the physical im/mobilities of walking and the imaginative mobility of remembering. Through this clash, the characters not only navigate their relationship to home, but position themselves in a home which spans Haiti and the United States. A rhythmanalytical reading of this story then achieves several things: It brings together Lefebvrian rhythmanalysis with Caribbean approaches to rhythm, it shows connections between a focus on rhythm and Mobility Studies; and it makes visible ways in which physical and imaginative mobilities, the mobilities of walking and remembering, can come together in everyday life to continuously forge a home.

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