Architecture in Contemporary Literature

Heterotopia and Sunset Park

Author(s): Cansu Özge Özmen * .

Pp: 96-101 (6)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815165166123010013

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Paul Auster’s 2010 novel, Sunset Park, is set in the flatlands of Florida as well as the streets of Brooklyn in New York City. It is an emotional reflection on the ideas of home and homelessness, belonging, loss, death, grief, trauma, guilt, and love, and how these concepts are defined and reiterated by the transformation of space. The chapter provides a descriptive analysis of the architectural features of multiple settings and moves on to a discussion of various significant locations in the novel by implementing the six principles of the heterotopia by Michel Foucault. While presenting his principles about heterotopia, Foucault assigns each a specific function. Heterotopias, according to each of his principles, represent an emotion that accompanies this function. Miles, the protagonist of the novel, who suffers from the emotional repercussions of a traumatic loss, joins three young prospective artists in transforming a building into a temporary living space for themselves. The building is situated in the Sunset Park neighborhood, where there is a dominance of neo-Renaissance and Romanesque architecture. The neighborhood is known to be a place where multiple ethnic minorities exist together. The common point of all the characters who dwell in the house illegally is that they are experiencing a critical transitory period in their lives. 

Keywords: Architecture, Brooklyn, Contemporary american literature, Compensation, Cemetery, Diversity, Economic recession, Estrangement, Foreclosure, Heterotopia, Michel foucault, New york city, Paul auster, Public space, Photography, Space, Setting, Sunset park, Squatting, Trauma.

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