Abstract: The proliferation of trauma fiction has given rise to a debate about the ethical challenges of representing and responding to trauma. An abuse of this theoretical framework may lead to an unethical appropriation of the trauma of others. The main aim in this article is to study Gail Jones’s use of poetic indirection in her short story “Touching Tiananmen” (2000). This strategy raises awareness about the historical trauma of the Tiananmen massacre, and takes how its victims may be represented into consideration. Firstly, the ambivalent meaning and relevance of silence in the short story will be explained. This discussion is supported by a detailed analysis of the formal and stylistic strategies used in Jones’s narrative to evoke the 1989 traumatic event. Secondly, the story’s construction of temporal, place and positional forms of circumspection will be examined. Finally, Homi Bhabha’s notion of “now knowledge” will be used to comment on the story’s anti-climatic turning-points and ending. By way of conclusion, it will be argued that Jones’s choice to “speak shadows” proves to be a powerful strategy to denounce forgetfulness and call for our recognition of responsibility towards the victims.

Keywords: poetic indirection; forgetfulness; recognition; Gail Jones; trauma

Copyright © Pilar Royo Grasa 2012. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.