“There’s Nothing More to Get From It”: Subverting Representation in Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum
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Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum resist the demands of representation literature by portraying protagonists who cannot be pinned down to a single position. As Black women writing in German, Wenzel and Otoo are faced with particular pressures to describe the effects of structural racism. They show an awareness of this expectation and develop forms of subversion: namely, ambiguity that defies resolution and coherence. Their novels show how constantly shifting contexts ruin any straightforward project of representation. Portraying the protagonists in a variety of different moments and locations, the texts reveal the insufficiency of characterization(s) such as “Schwarz”, “Weiblich” or “Queer”. We are never sure exactly which positions the protagonists are speaking from, which raises the question—how do you claim that something is a representation novel when you cannot identify what perspective is being represented?
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