Chapter 3 ‘Ghostpitality’: Specters of the Self in Zadie Smith’s NW (2012)
In Derrida’s theory of the spectral, the home is not a safe site, but rather exists as a borderland in which liminal states exist side by side. In Zadie Smith’s novel NW (2012), spectral dimensions of the homely and the domestic connect the ‘haunt’ to the compulsion to return to a place, as well as to notions of unconditional hospitality to the spectral ‘Other’. Through their connections with the architecture and geography of Smith’s North West London, the spectres of her novel critically frame England’s capital city as ‘simultaneously living and spectral’ in a series of problematic encounters that demonstrate the consequences of offering unconditional hospitality to the specter. Beginning with a titular concern with space and place, NW goes on to establish an extensive exploration of spectral topographies that are mobilized by its various narratives to explore the agency of the past in the present.