Afrodiasporic Female Automobility and Motel-Dwelling in Lesley Nneka Arimah's "Windfalls"
Keywords:automobility, driving-event, Lesley Nneka Arimah, mobilities, motels
This article explores Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “Windfalls” (2017) from a literary mobility studies perspective, applying notions of mobility studies such as the driving-event, friction, arrhythmia, and stickiness for an in-depth textual analysis. Given that its female migrant protagonists are constantly on the move, tropes of mobility recur throughout the story. Cars, filling stations, parking lots, truckers, motels and the figure of the sojourner play a pivotal role in defining its Afrodiasporic protagonists’ postmigratory mobilities in the United States. Arimah’s depiction of automobility and motel-dwelling underlines her theme of a flawed mother-daughter relationship and their impossibility of achieving the promised American Dream. A close reading of the fictional travellers’ displacements uncovers a critical analysis of automobility and motel-dwelling as forms of subversion of hegemonic mothering. Particular attention is drawn to how the female protagonists’ motilities are determined by their racialised gendered bodies. By analysing the literary representation of concrete and tangible mobilities performed by female Nigerian migrants, this study acknowleges the importance of exploring a key characteristic of third-generation Afrodiasporic fiction which has mostly gone unnoticed.