Forgetting to Remember: Multidirectional Communities in Caryl Phillips’s <i>In the Falling Snow</i>


  • Samantha Reive Holland


Community, cosmopolitanism, Englishness, migration, multidirectional memory


This article reads In the Falling Snow (2009) as an examination of Anglo-centric multicultural diaspora that incorporates new European migration. The reading is framed by Michael Rothberg’s theory of multidirectional memory. Using Rothberg in this way allows for a rendering of English subjectivity which encounters and draws from multiple transcultural referents. Through the problematic figure of Keith, Caryl Phillips’s novel explores the competing spheres of influence, migratory and otherwise, that lead to contemporary articulations of Englishness. Furthermore, the article posits that In the Falling Snow recasts familiar diasporic tropes and therefore expands the limits of cultural memory in critically unfamiliar and even vitally post-racial ways. The narrative achieves this in part through its inclusion of Eastern European migrants, whose experiences of England are circumscribed by a narrow view of “Englishness” at the community level. The novel therefore indexes the vexed contemporary relationship with multiculturalism, while simultaneously foregrounding the deeply rooted interconnectivity between England and its migrant communities.  By reading the novel through the lens of Michael Rothberg’s theory of multidirectional memory, the article identifies a multidirectional narrative consciousness which allows for complex renderings of iterations of Englishness.

Author Biography

Samantha Reive Holland

Dr Samantha Reive Holland recently completed her PhD at the University of Leeds, UK, and has taught at the Universities of Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This article is adapted from her doctoral thesis, which examines memory, belonging and cosmopolitanism in contemporary black British writing.