Necrofiction and The Politics of Literary Memory

BookNecrofiction and The Politics of Literary Memory

Necrofiction and The Politics of Literary Memory

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 87


July 1st, 2022



Other Formats



Contemporary literature gathers in a commemorative site the remains of H/history and its own story by erecting literary tombs. Necrofiction and The Politics of Literary Memory argues that current narratives of the aftermath enable writers to honour the past while casting off its burdensome legacy, and to dismantle while reassembling affective, political, and aesthetic communities. The genre is defined and discussed in relation to other literary forms such as trauma writing, historical novels, archival narratives, biofiction, or field literature. Necrofiction fulfils in distinct ways the social and artistic function of an individual or collective act of remembrance of a lost family member or a historical figure. At the same time, it offers a creative space in which the authors can overcome the burden of literary tradition by incorporating existing models and devices into their own poetic art while as demonstrated by the works of five writers whose personal and artistic trajectories transcend political, cultural, and linguistic frontiers: Linda Lê, Patrick Modiano, Assia Djebar, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Maylis de Kerangal. By examining the ways in which fiction both reflects and resists what Achille Mbembe has defined as “necropolitics,” Necrofiction and The Politics of Literary Memory delves into the contentious yet intimate relationship between singular models of literary remembrance and the frameworks of hegemonic discourses.

Author Information

Oana Panaïté is Ruth N. Halls Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington and the author of Des littératures-mondes en français. Écritures singulières, poétiques transfrontalières dans la prose contemporaine (2012) and The Colonial Fortune of Contemporary Fiction in French (2017).

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Introduction: Necropoetics
I. Revenants: The Deadly Symbiosis of Linda Lê
II. Haunting: Living Memory and Dead Silence in Patrick Modiano
III. Afterlives: Open Tombs and Proper Burials in Assia Djebar
IV. Remains: Grasping the Void with Patrick Chamoiseau
V. Recovery: Maylis de Kerangal’s Anonymous Litany
Conclusion: From Dead Letters to Literary Tombs