This monograph analyses Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, On Beauty, NW, The Embassy of Cambodia, and Swing Time as trauma fictions that reveal the social, cultural, historical, and political facets of trauma. Starting with Smith’s humorous critique of psychoanalysis and her definition of original trauma, this volume explores Smith’s challenge of Western theories of trauma and coping, and how her narratives expose the insidiousness of (post)colonial suffering and unbelonging. This book then explores transgenerational trauma, the tensions between remembering and forgetting, multidirectional memory, and the possibilities of the ambiguities and contradictions of the postcolonial and diasporic characters Smith depicts. This analysis discloses Smith’s effort to ethically redefine trauma theory from a postcolonial and decolonial standpoint, reiterates the need to acknowledge and work through colonial histories and postcolonial forms of oppression, and critically reflects on our roles as witnesses of suffering in global times.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Postcolonial Traumas: Theories and Narratives
Chapter 1. Origins, Original Trauma, and Transgenerational Trauma: The Obsessions and Revelations of History
Chapter 2. The Erasure of Origins against Original Trauma: The Ambivalences of Forgetting and Remembering in White Teeth, On Beauty, and NW
Chapter 3. Multiple Origins and Multidirectional Memory: Dialogic Histories of Slavery in The Embassy of Cambodia and Swing Time
Conclusion: The Forms, Complexities, and Contradictions of Postcolonial Trauma
Beatriz Pérez Zapata is Lecturer of English for Primary Education at the Valencian International University and Assistant Lecturer of English for Specific Purposes at Tecnocampus (Pompeu Frabra University). She obtained her PhD from the University of Zaragoza. She has published extensively on Smith’s work in international journals. She has also published articles on the representation of shame and trauma of diasporic subjects, and postcolonial subjects and refugees in video games. Her research interests are trauma, black British writing, diasporic literature, and the representation of refugees in literature and media.