Postcolonial Writing, Terror, and Continuity: Okri, D’Aguiar, NourbeSe Philip, Shire
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Extending the focus on the poetics of postcolonial re-imagining in the previous two chapters, ‘Postcolonial writing, terror, and continuity’, chapter 4, looks at the revisionary poetics of terror writing, and how it uses narrative continuities including the ongoing flow of consciousness as modes of regeneration following on from terror’s first destructive instant. The discussion continues the question of a postcolonial poetics, left open at the end of chapter 2, but approaches the device of juxtaposition from a different angle than chapter 3, where the focus is on the resistant meanings that might be construed from suggestive gaps and apparently unsorted referents. The concern here is with writing beyond discontinuity, and the resistant effects this might generate, as reflected in four works: Ben Okri’s short fiction ‘In the City of Red Dust’ (1988), Fred D’Aguiar’s novel Feeding the Ghosts (1997), M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (2008), and Warsan Shire’s poem ‘Home’ (2014). Readings of these texts explore the ways in which writing on terror can, almost impossibly and yet powerfully, evoke both its moments of violent rupture and also the experience of endurance and recovery that can, for those who survive, lie beyond. The central question is how these texts are able in their form as writing to confront, expand, and to some extent make sense of the reversals and disruptions that express in terroristic ways within global history.