Focusing on Hebrew writer Orly Castel-Bloom’s novel Dolly City (1993), as well as on her short stories published in the same period, this essay analyzes how neoliberal principles of risk management, primarily risk privatization and speculation, shape postmodernist literary genres and techniques. It argues that Dolly City reflects, thematically and formally, a shift between two biopolitical models of governance: from a welfare model based on a calculable and statistical futurity and on communal sacrifice, to a neoliberal model grounded in a speculative futurity and a zero-risk principle of preemption. Dr. Dolly, the narrator of the novel, who suffers from the neoliberal “illness of improbable possibilities,” applies this preemptive principle to language itself, creating what this essay defines as “preemptive poetics:” a literalized and material approach to language that protects it from the infinite improbable possibilities of figurative expression. Dolly City traces the postmodernist problem of the destabilized text, detached from any knowable intention, to neoliberal political-economic principles of risk management.

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