Rooted-transnationalism and the representational function of food in Hiromi Goto's "Chorus of Mushrooms"
This paper uses a close reading combined with Koichi Iwabuchi’s nascent concept rooted-transnationalism to illustrate the representational function of food in Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms. By examining the representational function of food, we can understand how Goto chooses to arbitrate the belonging of the Canadian Nikkei characters in her novel. The three generations in the matrilineal Tonkatsu family begin the novel with varying (almost stereotyped) cultural identities, but by understanding how their identity is represented through food as the novel progresses we can see these identities worked into a nuanced dialogue with the modern diaspora condition. We learn that explanations of diaspora identity in literature using transnationalism as a framework can be enhanced by considering cultural identity in terms of its rootedness, particularly how it interacts with sociocultural factors at varying spatial levels. Understanding the representational function of food in a rooted-transnational context shows how food problematises the belonging of Nikkei yet can also provide emancipation from the challenge of diasporic cultural identity. Through this analysis of Goto’s novel, we can gain a deeper appreciation of the complexity of modern Nikkei diaspora cultural identities.
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