From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

“There are better ways and places to spend your time”: historical stillness, quantum narration, and Black spacetime(s) in Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book



Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book presents a peculiar narrative structure through which two stories that at the beginning are apparently unrelated progressively overlap, resulting in a blurred temporal dimension in which past, present, and future are tangled together. While such temporality seems to replicate the oppressive timeframe projected by the afterlife of slavery, the historical stillness in which Black Americans are ensnared by their nation’s “racial calculus,” this essay suggests that it is possible to read the novel as an attempt to place Blackness in a multidimensional narrative that breaks free from the spatial-temporal constrictions imposed by institutional racism. In so doing, Hell of a Book arguably rebuts Afropessimistic claims about the narrative being inherently anti-Black by disrupting linear spacetime and projecting a chronotope that can be described through quantum physics – and more specifically through the paradox implied by the principle of quantum superposition and the Many-Worlds interpretation of that same principle.


Afterlife of slavery, Afropessimism, narrative, possible worlds, quantum physics



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