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Volume 38, Number 1 (2013)

A Family of Migrant Workers: Region and the Rise of Neoliberalism in the Fiction of Alistair MacLeod

February 28, 2014


Realism and regionalism are tightly coupled in critical analysis of Alistair MacLeod’s fiction, but Herb Wyile’s recent study Anne of Tim Hortons was the first to examine the ascendance of neoliberal ideologies and the effects of a globalized economy on the workers represented in his fiction. MacLeod’s novel No Great Mischief suggests that the underdevelopment of Atlantic Canada and migration of workers to other regions is a result of nineteenth- and twentieth-century economic and political changes. It traces the history of labour migration as embedded in the birth of neoliberalism, and MacLeod’s portrait of a migrant community acknowledges the effects of a longstanding history of economic globalization on workers from different corners of the world. No Great Mischief is visibly about clan, blood ties, race, and region, but its complex analogies create a kind of metaphorical family of migrant workers – a “family” that evokes the contours of, but is not identical with, the nation.