Beyond Boundaries

Stranger spaces: Embodiment, space and language in the collaborative life writing novel The Fortune Finder




cognitive linguistics, dual authorship, embodiment, strangers


The present study takes The Fortune Finder (2008) by Edward van de Vendel and Anoush Elman as a case in point to demonstrate how interactions between material bodies, space and power constitute some characters as strangers or, in other words, as bodies deemed out-of-place. The novel is an example of collaborative life writing and describes how a young, Afghan refugee and his family flee the Taliban regime and seek asylum in the Netherlands. Building on Sara Ahmed’s work (2000), I demonstrate how their bodies are recognised as stranger bodies through a demarcation of social spaces, which involves including or excluding particular bodies based on matters of normativity and deviance. Protagonist Hamayun and his family are implicated in shifting relationships with power and space that cause their bodies to be recognised as out-of-place in various ways, dependent on their circumstances. The notion of dwelling takes centre stage in these dynamics. It denotes the actual spaces that Hamayun and his family (are allowed to) inhabit, but it also features in a metaphor that links friendship with spaces of belonging. An implied lack thereof suggests how Hamayun eventually seems to perceive himself as a kind of stranger.

Author Biography

Anne Klomberg, Tilburg University

Anne Klomberg studied Children’s and Young Adult Literature at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Together with dr. Sara Van den Bossche, she co-authored Jeugdliteratuur door de lens van etnisch-culturele diversiteit (2020), an examination of and practical approach to ethnic-cultural diversity in books for young people. Since 2019, she is writing her dissertation on embodied outsiderhood in adolescent fiction.





Beyond Boundaries