Analysis Of John Hughes 's ' The Tale Of Asylum '

1519 WordsApr 24, 20167 Pages
Published in March 2016, Asylum is a complex, fractured novel that hovers on the border of reality and unreality. It is the most recent work by author John Hughes, whose novel The Idea of Home received the Premier’s Award for Nonfiction in 2005. The tale of Asylum is intriguing, a Kafkaesque allegory that binds the strangeness felt by refugees seeking asylum, with an image of purgatory borrowed from classical works of fiction. It is split into two acts, and within these acts, multiple fragments. The reader encounters excerpts from reports and inquiries as well as ‘Legends’ of both ‘The Doors’ and ‘The Place’. The landscape of the text is split into three places, ‘Sanctuary’, the ‘Doors’, and ‘Place’. Its protagonists are Baba and Ash, and as the reader follows their journey as barbers in this strange land, they uncover more about their past, the pasts of their clients, and what may become of their futures. Hughes himself defines the purpose of his work years before it is published, when he speaks of wanting literature to evolve into an unconscious mix of forms, something organic that cannot be willed into existence (Mansfield 2012, 166). From a literary standpoint, the text can be observed as an abstract collection of narrative, reports and even philosophy that attempts to be homogenous. I argue that it attempts this, as the style at times can be quite jarring. The veil of the unknown becomes a shroud, as the reader finds himself or herself pulled deeper into a world that

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