When Ulrich Beck theorised a ‘Risk Society’ (Risikogesellschaft) in 1986, the threat of global annihilation through nuclear war remained uppermost in the minds of his readership. Three decades on, questions about whether the sensation of risk has mutated or evolved in the intervening period, and whether fiction exhibits evidence of such a change, remain just as urgent. While the immediate risk of the Cold War’s ‘mutually assured destruction’ through World War Three seems to have ebbed, the paradox is that the social goal of safety and security seem to elude attainment. Global financial collapse, Islamic terrorism, human-authored climate change, epidemic disease outbreaks, refugee crises and the chronic erosion of the welfare state now preoccupy those in the developed world and provide the horizons for contemporary anxieties worldwide.
The contributions to this volume explore these themes, locating their significance and representation in a diverse range of contemporary literature, film, and comics, from China, Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Pakistan, and the United States. This book was originally published as a special issue of Textual Practice.
Introduction: Fiction in the age of risk Tony Hughes-d’Aeth and Golnar Nabizadeh
1. The powers of exposure: risk and vulnerability in contemporary British fiction Jean-Michel Ganteau
2. Evaluating risk in perpetrator narratives: resituating Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones as historical fiction Ned Curthoys
3. Narrating risk: the financial thriller film during the U.S. recession Keith Clavin
4. John Lanchester’s Capital: financial risk and its counterpoints Barbara Korte
5. Framing risk in China: precarity and instability in the stories of Li Yiyun Graham J. Matthews
6. Risking intimacy in contemporary South African fiction Lara Buxbaum
7. Visualising risk in Pat Grant’s Blue: xenophobia and graphic narrative Golnar Nabizadeh
8. Vulnerable lives: the affective dimensions of risk in young adult cli-fi Alexa Weik von Mossner
9. Jihadi fiction: radicalisation narratives in the contemporary novel Jago Morrison