I like to think that I’ve become more whole having written my first novel If I Had Two Lives. After moving to the United States at twelve years old, I’ve not lived anywhere for longer than five years, moving from one state to another. My connection to place is tenuous, my relationship to people transitory due to geographical circumstance; my ability to hold together the various fragments of my identities loosens with time. I am perhaps lucky to have lived more than one life, yet as my life experiences gain in layers and textures, my sense of self grows all the more opaque.
If I Had Two Lives is a work of the imagination that has autobiographical consequences. I wrote it in bursts and out of order. When I had all the crucial moments, I began stitching them together, writing into the empty spaces, between voids, assembling coherence. Meaning is the magic potion that unites seemingly random series of events. Narrative gives meaning. I’ve not suddenly become surer of myself, but I’m more comfortable living with stitches, breathing in the seams.
Read Abbigail’s recommendations of seven novels from around the world that address shifting identities at Electric Lit.