This monograph analyses Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, On Beauty, NW, The Embassy of Cambodia, and Swing Time as trauma fictions that reveal the social, cultural, historical, and political facets of trauma. Starting with Smith’s humorous critique of psychoanalysis and her definition of original trauma, this volume explores Smith’s challenge of Western theories of trauma and coping, and how her narratives expose the insidiousness of (post)colonial suffering and unbelonging. This book then explores transgenerational trauma, the tensions between remembering and forgetting, multidirectional memory, and the possibilities of the ambiguities and contradictions of the postcolonial and diasporic characters Smith depicts. This analysis discloses Smith’s effort to ethically redefine trauma theory from a postcolonial and decolonial standpoint, reiterates the need to acknowledge and work through colonial histories and postcolonial forms of oppression, and critically reflects on our roles as witnesses of suffering in global times.

Introduction: Postcolonial Traumas: Theories and Narratives

Chapter 1. Origins, Original Trauma, and Transgenerational Trauma: The Obsessions and Revelations of History

Chapter 2. The Erasure of Origins against Original Trauma: The Ambivalences of Forgetting and Remembering in White Teeth, On Beauty, and NW

Chapter 3. Multiple Origins and Multidirectional Memory: Dialogic Histories of Slavery in The Embassy of Cambodia and Swing Time

Conclusion: The Forms, Complexities, and Contradictions of Postcolonial Trauma