The Second Elevation of the Novel: Race, Form, and the Postrace Aesthetic in Contemporary Narrative

In this article, appearing in the journal Narrative (January 2013, 21:1), Saldívar shows how anew generation of minority and ethnic writers have come to prominence, whose work signals a radical turn to a “postrace” era in American literature.

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Like Virginia Woolf ironically identifying the beginning of the modern era “on or about December 1910,” Colson Whitehead, in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times in 2009, marked the anniversary of the election of the first black man to the presidency of the United States by proclaiming that “One year ago . . . we socially became a postracial society.” Saldívar returns to Whitehead, especially in reference to three of his novels, The Intuitionist (1998), John Henry Days (2001), and Zone One (2011). Before that, he sets the context for his appraisal of what he calls  a “postrace aesthetic” in contemporary narrative.
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