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"Surviving Globalization": Experiment and the World-Historical Imagination in Rana Dasgupta’s Solo

Sharae Deckard


This essay investigates Rana Dasgupta’s Solo as an exemplar of world-mapping fiction which takes the system of global capitalism as its horizon.  I argue that Solo invites “world-literary” criticism informed by world-systems and world-ecology perspectives because its operative totality is world-history rather than the nation and its aesthetics self-consciously take up the formal problem of representation of global scales. The essay considers experimental writing in the context of structural narrative innovation, demonstrating how Solo’s diptych structure renovates the forms of the historical novel and the Zeitroman in order to represent successive revolutions in the world-ecology. I contend that the text’s answer to Dasgupta’s question of how to “survive globalization” is to manifest a counter-history of capitalist modernity that restores history to the neoliberal present, from the perspective of countries in the former Soviet and Ottoman empires. I conclude by exploring how the generic divide between the realist and oneiric halves of the novel negotiates the problem of futurity, attempting to conjure a totalizing retrospect by “dreaming” the future.


Rana Dasgupta, Solo, Tokyo Cancelled, world-literary criticism, world-systems, world-ecology, global novel, neoliberalism, post-Soviet Europe

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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