TransAtlantic and On Canaan’s Side revisit the American Dream that people like their characters helped to create. Colum McCann and Sebastian Barry advance sophisticated reassessments of economic agency and the potential for social mobility in the wake of the Irish economic crash and indict the narratives of progress of which the American Dream is emblematic. Each shuns normal syntactic connections, using “ungrammaticality” as a formal technique in their constellated constructions of risk, luck, hazard, and misfortune. Nevertheless, in working through their inherently neoliberal narratives of risk, both, to varying degrees, forswear agency and accede to a contemporary feeling of impotence.

You do not currently have access to this content.