The Turn to Precarity in Twenty-First Century Fiction

Open access


Recent years have seen several attempts by writers and critics to understand the changed sensibility in post-9/11 fiction through a variety of new -isms. This essay explores this cultural shift in a different way, finding a ‘turn to precarity’ in twenty-first century fiction characterised by a renewal of interest in the flow and foreclosure of affect, the resurgence of questions about vulnerability and our relationships to the other, and a heightened awareness of the social dynamics of seeing. The essay draws these tendencies together via the work of Judith Butler in Frames of War, in an analysis of Trezza Azzopardi’s quasi-biographical study of precarious life, Remember Me.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • “Altermodern: Video Interview with Nicholas Bourriaud.” Tate Britain. 2008. exhibition/altermodern/explain-altermodern/altermodern-videointerview. 28 Aug 2013.

  • Balyey John. Elegy for Iris. London: St Martin’s 2009.

  • Butler Judith. Frames of War. New York: Verso 2009. ---. Precarious Life. London: Verso 2004.

  • Couser G. Thomas. Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing. Ithaca NY: Cornell U.P. 2004.

  • Eakin Paul John ed. The Ethics of Life Writing. Ithaca NY: Cornell U.P. 2004.

  • Fukuyama Francis. “The End of History.” The National Interest (Summer 1989): 3-19.

  • Gibbons Alison. “Altermodernist Fiction.” Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature Eds. Bray J A Gibbons and B McHale. London: Routledge 2012. 238-52.

  • Greenwald Smith Rachel. “Organic Shrapnel: Affect and Aesthetics in September 11 Fiction.” American Literature 83.1 (2011): 153-74.

  • Italian Core Group. “Introduction.” Feminist Review 87 (2009): 3-4.

  • Kelly Adam. “Moments of Decision in Contemporary American Fiction: Roth Auster Eugenides.” Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction 5 (2010): 313-32.

  • Klein Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Henry Holt 2007.

  • Miller Nancy K. “The Ethics of Betrayal: Diary of a Memoirist.” The Ethics of Life Writing. Ed. Eakin Paul John. Ithaca NY: Cornell U.P. 2004. 147-62.

  • Oakley Kate. “New Labour and the Cultural Workforce.” Cultural Trends 20.3-4 (2011): 281-9.

  • Smith Zadie. “Two Directions for the Novel.” Changing My Mind: Essays.

  • London: Hamish Hamilton 2009. 71-96.

  • Weston Kate. “Political Economies of the Precarious.” Anthropological Quarterly 85.2 (2012): 429-56.

  • Wiktorowicz Quintin and John Kaltner. “Killing in the Name of Islam: Al- Qaeda’s Justification for September 11.” Middle East Policy Council Journal 10.2 (2003): 76-92.

  • Woolway Tony. “Looking Back.” South Wales Echo 1 Nov 2011: 14.

Journal information
Impact Factor

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.101

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 744 589 16
PDF Downloads 387 311 17