Queering disability in Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper : diaspora, mutilated tongues, and the lesbian triangle



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This report is an analysis of Salvador Plascencia’s first novel, The People of Paper, with relationships to current understandings of lesbian genres from queer theory, the body from disability theory, and race in relation to the characters’ migrations/transgressions across physical and figurative boundaries from Mexico to the United States. Key thinkers who have influenced my reading of the novel include Gloria Anzaldúa whose text, Borderlands/La Frontera, portrays the intersections of a multiplicity of identities across gender, sexuality, ability, nationhood, race, and ethnicity. The thinking of Chicana lesbian scholar, Catrióna Rueda Esquibel; queer scholar, Alexander Doty; and disability scholars, Rosemarie Garland Thomson and Tobin Siebers, are also integral to the report as I explore the intersections of sexuality, disability, and diaspora of key figures like the “retarded” prophet, Baby Nostradamus, and the women of paper, Merced de Papel and Liz. These figures are explored in relation to each other as well as to the readers, critic, and author as the novel is a metafictional one that lends itself to the blurring of genre boundaries. Further, as I analyze these corporeal intersections, I focus on the lesbian trope of forked tongues as a trope of queer disability as it relates to the markedly “Other” body of Merced de Papel and the lesbian triangle she forms with Little Merced and Merced as well as to the formation of a queer disability community.