Department of Applied English, Ming Chuan University
Nadeem Aslam's novel Maps for Lost Lovers deals with tensions faced by immigrants and migrants: how much can and should one's old identity be preserved, and how much should one adapt and change to suit new surroundings? One key tactic in this preservation and development of immigrant identity is spatial practices, or what characters do in space. The spatial practices of the characters in Maps for Lost Lovers, and in particular the extent to which those practices focus on either roots or routes, reveal different strategies of identity formation in the novel's Pakistani immigrant community: while some emphasize their roots in Pakistan and make no attempt to adapt to their new lives in England, others make routes that travel back and forth between different communities and try to form a new more adaptable identity. Susan Sanford Friedman's discussion of routes and roots in her book Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter provides a useful framework for analyzing identity formation in the immigrant community of Maps for Lost Lovers. Roots and routes are at play in Aslam's novel, in the way that identity comes not only from roots in Pakistan and tradition, but also in their new routes developing in their new community in northern England. However, adaptation is taking place in an unexpected direction that focuses on place, space, and the environment: the immigrants are rebuilding their own roots in the land around them, exercising a spatial practice by claiming and changing the land to suit them.