‘Between moments an ‘I’ walks.’ What is personal identity?
If you lose your memory are you still you? If you wake up from brain surgery and hate the person you loved before the operation, what does this mean? If you live on a desert island does the essence of you change? What is this thing called ‘I’ that burns at the centre of our haphazard path through the maze of life? This is a question that haunts me and my writing.
Nature versus nurture: we are the sum of our genes and we are the sum of our experiences. We acknowledge that the world we live in is transient and ever-changing. Yet we carry our stubborn belief that some kind of unique essence of ‘me’ exists through the various twists and turns of our own life. We use phrases like ‘I’m not feeling myself’ or ‘I want to find myself’ or ‘it’s not me’ or ‘I am at one with myself’ as if there is only one identity living inside us. And yet I often feel we are like a house that looks pretty much the same on the outside but with a whole bunch of different residents who take turns to look out the window or stoke the fireplace. A house inhabited, not by a hermit who gets up and goes to bed at the same time every day, but by a committee of different personas and alter-egos constantly chuntering away and making decisions about how to present ‘me’ to me. The committee is never idle; some items appear on the agenda again and again, some are always new. Whatever challenges this wonderful committee faces – be they personality traits caused by unchangeable genes or big life events that threaten the very foundations of the house – their task is always the same: turn it all into a story, a story that is cohesive and convincing – the story of me.
In both Twin Truths and Yellow Room, I wanted to explore the boundaries of personal identity, what influences our sense of who we are, what happens when we are thrown by a twist in life’s journey, by revelations or events beyond our control. In Twin Truths, Jenny struggles to come to terms with the loss of her twin and when she finally discovers what happened to her sister, the challenge to make sense of who she really is becomes stronger than ever. In Yellow Room, Chala grows up with her sense of self shaped by the guilt she carries from a childhood accident. Secrets take their toll and events intervene to challenge her notion of who she is and who she can become.
When I was asked to write about the inspiration for Twin Truths, the first sentence I wrote was ‘I love twists.’ In the last two years of my own life, I have lived with, am still living with, the impact of events that sometimes make me want to change that sentence to ‘I hate twists.’ I had no idea how prophetic my own words would sound to the me of my future: ‘Life’s road is full of unexpected turns. Some are exciting, some are appalling. These can change us completely or ground us even more firmly in the essence of the ‘I’ that we believe in, but they always cause some kind of evolution in our being, always create consequences in our own personal story.’ In the end, the story is all we’ve got…
Set in England and Kenya during the post-election crisis of 2008, a psychological drama that explores the power of secrets to run and ruin our lives
Chala has grown up in the shadow of a tragic act—as a small child she killed her baby sister in their yellow room. Even now, in her thirties, her state of mind is precarious and both she and her partner struggle with the demons of her past. When a one night stand leaves Chala pregnant, and her beloved adoptive father dies, she decides to go to Kenya and visit the scene of her parents’ deaths. Slowly memories of the events in the yellow room return, the political uprising puts a new meaning on life, and the future can only be faced by making a choice—to deceive or tell the truth.
Find out more here: http://www.shelanrodger.com/
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Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yellow-Room-Shelan-Rodger/dp/1908122900/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
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