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Haunting EncountersThe Ethics of Reading across Boundaries of Difference$
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Joanne Lipson Freed

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501713767

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501713767.001.0001

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Haunting Futures and the Dystopian Imagination

Haunting Futures and the Dystopian Imagination

(p.135) 4 Haunting Futures and the Dystopian Imagination
Haunting Encounters

Joanne Lipson Freed

Cornell University Press

The two works addressed in Chapter 4, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, look toward a future that is haunted by the unrealized hopes of the past. Writing in places and historical moments in which imagining a different and better future seems both urgently necessary and impossibly compromised—decolonizing Ghana, and post-9/11 New York—both Armah and DeLillo create dystopian texts that transfer that responsibility onto their future readers through their cyclical structure and ambiguous, open-ended narrative. Resisting simplistic forms of optimism, these texts refuse to take up the flawed rhetorics available to them and remain committed to carrying out clear-eyed social critique. But by leaving their representations of societies in crisis open to reinterpretation and rereading, the novels allow for the possibility that the future might offer hopeful visions that are impossible in the present.

Keywords:   Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Don DeLillo, Falling Man, dystopia, 9/11, decolonization, hope

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