Informed by theories of code-switching, memory, and trauma, my reading of Lebanese American Patricia Sarrafian Ward's diasporic novel The Bullet Collection (2003) centers on its multilingual usages to demonstrate how language play makes visible states of liminality or in-betweenness: between Lebanon and the US, the past and the present, the present and the future, childhood and adulthood, and trauma and recovery. I argue that this liminality, laid bare by a creative interpretation of the (mis)- and (dis)uses of multilingualism, is a concept that ties trauma, nostalgia, and homeness together and is fleshed out in three psychodynamic spaces: social contact zones, checkpoints, and liminal points. I zero in on code-switched materials, both overt and covert, to reveal how they are deeply, if often inconspicuously, connected to expressing traumas and (re)negotiating identities. By adopting this approach, I contribute, first, to the field of literary linguistics, relatively under-explored in connection with Arab American and Anglophone Arab fiction, and, second, chart a new pathway towards decolonizing trauma studies by examining its relationships with multilingualism, war, and nostalgia.
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