Postcolonial Modernism and the Picaresque Novel

Literatures of Precarity

  • Jens Elze

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Jens Elze
    Pages 1-32
  3. Jens Elze
    Pages 33-72
  4. Jens Elze
    Pages 73-104
  5. Jens Elze
    Pages 105-143
  6. Jens Elze
    Pages 145-176
  7. Jens Elze
    Pages 177-211
  8. Jens Elze
    Pages 213-220
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 221-225

About this book


This book is about the contemporary picaresque novel. Despite its popularity, the picaresque, unlike the bildungsroman, is still an undertheorized genre, especially for the context of postcolonial literatures. This study considers the picaresque novel’s traditional focus on poverty and deprivation, and argues that its postcolonial versions urge us to conceive of as a more wide-ranging sense of precarity and precariousness. Non-linear biography, episodic style, protean identities, unreliable narratives, and abject landscapes are the social and formal aspects through which this precarity is thematized and performed. A concise analysis of these concepts and phenomena in the picaresque provides the structure for this book. What is especially significant in comparison to other forms of postcolonial (post)modernism is that the picaresque does not offer a general critique of a project of modernity, but through its persistent precarity points to the paradoxical logics of capitalism, which are especially nuanced under the conditions of neo-imperialism and neoliberalism. The book features texts by established postcolonial authors such as Salman Rushdie and V.S. Naipaul, but especially focuses on the more recent proliferation of the genre in works by Aravind Adiga, Mohsin Hamid and Indra Sinha. 


Capitalism Neoliberalism Economics Global Imperialism

Authors and affiliations

  • Jens Elze
    • 1
  1. 1.BerlinGermany

Bibliographic information