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Magical realism has been commonly theorized in terms of a postcolonial strategy of cultural renewal, according to which such fiction is understood as embodying a racialized epistemology allegedly inclusive of magic. The inherent exoticism of this idea has drawn criticism. Critics have recently begun to re-envision magical realism in terms of trauma theory. However, trauma readings of magical realism tend to unselfconsciously reinvigorate an authenticating rhetoric: magical realism is represented not as the organic expression of a precolonial or hybrid consciousness, but of colonial or other kinds of trauma. Through case studies of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book, this essay intervenes in trauma studies readings of magical realist literature to emphasize the fundamentally ironic nature of the iconic narrative strategy of representing the ostentatiously fantastical as real. It also argues that these texts, while invested in representing the traumas of colonialism, are less interested in authenticating magic as part of a postcolonial or traumatic epistemology than in transforming fantasy into history and empowered futurity.' (Publication abstract)

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  • Appears in:
    y Ariel vol. 47 no. 3 July 2016 9985743 2016 periodical issue 2016 pg. 95-122
Last amended 2 Sep 2016 14:06:13
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