Ill-apparent: things in the wake of the Arandora Star

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Andrew O’Hagan’s Personality (2003) follows the career of Maria Tambini, a young Scots Italian signing star of the 1970s setting it in the distant, yet potent wake of the Arandora Star, torpedoed by a U-Boat in 1940. The novel primarily deals with the corrosive effects of media culture, taking its inspiration from the life of Lena Zavaroni whose showbusiness career was blighted by serious eating disorders. The sinking of the Arandora Star, carrying interned Italian men to Canada, has been a defining, traumatic episode in the history of the Scots Italian community. The effects of the disaster do not dissipate and are imprinted on the Tambini family, Maria’s grandmother was (counterfactually) aboard the vessel when it sank. The loss of her young daughter on the ship remains a barely acknowledged family tragedy and secret. The unexpected appearance of an unclaimed suitcase nearly forty years after the sinking is the material conduit for memory. Drawing on the work of Hirsch on intergenerational postmemory, and of Cvetkovich on the informal archives of affect, I suggest that in O’Hagan’s novel, things host the remains of the missing persons until they are ready, but only in part, to materialise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMemory, mobility and material culture
EditorsChiara Giuliani, Kate Hodgson
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003112457
ISBN (Print)9780367631918, 9780367631925
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022
EventAll things considered - UCC, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 9 Nov 201810 Nov 2018
http://University College Cork

Publication series

Name Routledge studies in cultural history


ConferenceAll things considered
Internet address


  • Arandora Star
  • Scots Italians
  • Andrew O'Hagan


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