This essay calls attention to a previously overlooked property of disnarration: more than simply a means of circumventing a prohibition or taboo, I argue, disnarration possesses a persuasive power that is distinct from, and at times exceeds, that which an explicitly narrated version of the same events could provide. By presenting readers with a compelling but explicitly counterfactual account, disnarration prompts them to construct for themselves the elements of the narrative that the text itself does not voice, and in doing so, recruits them as willing participants into its larger imaginative project. Such persuasiveness is a fundamental property of disnarration in general, but it is one that has been exploited to particular effect by writers of contemporary fiction as a means of engaging potentially resistant readers in specific forms of social and political critique. To illustrate this claim, I offer an analysis of Junot Díaz's 2007 novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in which disnarration both supports the novel's critique of gender and empire and, more importantly, renders that critique pleasurable for the novel's broad, popular readership.


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pp. 200-214
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