Re-imagining apartheid : making guilt visible in Lauren Beukes's 'Zoo city' (2010)
Martín Alegre, Sara (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Filologia Anglesa i de Germanística)

Date: 2015
Abstract: Lauren Beukes’s acclaimed second novel Zoo City (2010) is an accomplished urban fantasy, based on the premise that the guilty conscience of criminals can materialize into familiars, provided they accept their guilt. These familiars, animals that accompany the repentant criminal for life, also grant their host a magical power as a sort of reward for their processing of guilt. This externalization of guilt, however, results in the discrimination and ghettoisation of the individuals dubbed ‘animalled zoos’ in a way that inevitably recalls Apartheid. Beukes is herself a white writer whereas her protagonist, Zinzi December, is a black ex-journalist and ex-addict, ‘animalled’ for indirectly causing the death of her brother. Yet, comments on race are missing in the novel, in which characters are described with no reference at all to their skin colour and in which ‘racist’ is used meaning ‘anti-animalled. ’ This absence of comment is even stranger if we consider that the neighbourhood nicknamed ‘Zoo City’ in the novel is actually inner-city Hillbrow. I consider here Beukes’s use of the city of Johannesburg as a background for her fantasy novel, exploring the extent to which she successfully transforms actual class and race issues into proper material for fantasy.
Note: This is the presentation I offered at the International Conference Relations and Networks in Indian Ocean Writing, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, November 26th - 27th 2015
Rights: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència d'ús Creative Commons. Es permet la reproducció total o parcial i la comunicació pública de l'obra, sempre que no sigui amb finalitats comercials, i sempre que es reconegui l'autoria de l'obra original. No es permet la creació d'obres derivades. Creative Commons
Language: Anglès.
Document: conferenceObject
Subject: Lauren Beukes ; Zoo city ; South Africa ; Apartheid ; Urban fantasy ; Johannesburg in fiction
Published in: International Conference Relations and Networks in Indian Ocean Writing. Campus UAB, 1er : 2015



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 Record created 2015-11-28, last modified 2018-10-28



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