Women’s voices, precarity, and commercialism in selected dystopian South African fiction.
Clarke, Lynne Susan.
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This dissertation examines the use and effects of women’s voices, precarity, and commercialism in selected dystopian South African fiction, namely Moxyland (2008) by Lauren Beukes, For the Mercy of Water (2012) by Karen Jayes, and Selling LipService (2017) by Tammy Baikie. All three of these texts have female focalisers whose experiences of precarity can be linked to their gender. These women also attempt to share their stories with their society despite the censorship within their societies. For this reason, the analyses of the texts will use a feminist perspective during the textual analysis. The novels’ societies also all have an extreme corporate influence which will be discussed following Naomi Klein’s No Logo (2000), which has not been used previously in literary analysis of fictional corporate control. A discussion of the elements of hope within the texts will show that they can be considered critical dystopias. This dissertation will reveal that the selected texts can be linked through the experiences of precarity that are partially caused by the corporate influence and control of each text’s societies. This highlights that speculative South African fiction uses and exaggerates subconscious fears of corporate influence when creating a dystopian setting, though the appearance of this influence may differ. It also suggests that women are more likely to suffer from the experiences of precarity that result from these dystopias. The women do however, attempt, with some success, to combat this control with varying methods. The chronological examination of the novels reveals the different appearances this corporate control has taken, from obvious privilege and downplayed governmental influence, to obvious interference with the government, and finally, to having infiltrated every corner of society without mention of an independent government.