Books of the DeadReading the Zombie in Contemporary Literature

Books of the DeadReading the Zombie in Contemporary Literature

Tim Lanzendörfer

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496819062

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Much research has been done on the zombie, a critical figure of 21st century culture, but most of it has been devoted to visual media—especially films and TV. This book is the first monograph to engage the zombie as it appears in contemporary literature. It argues that the zombie is best read both as a formal feature, one that necessitates and enables certain things to happen in fiction, as well as a figure of possibility, one which is best read not symbolically in itself, but for the ideas about possible futures it makes possible. In six chapters, Books of the Dead reads key texts of zombie fiction, from Max Brooks’s World War Z through Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, touching on both so-called literary fiction, genre fiction, comics, and short fiction. It addresses zombie fiction’s capacity to speak about contemporary concerns such as community or better political futures, on race, and on gender, but also argues for the importance of the zombie to contemporary literature as such.