This essay analyzes Lauren Beukes's 2010 novel, Zoo City, as a complicated set of allegories of environmental disaster, HIV/AIDS, xenophobic violence, and contemporary African identity. It argues that Zoo City, as a speculative fiction of sorts, is deeply informed by South African history and particularly the history of Johannesburg in both the apartheid and postapartheid eras. The central conceit of the novel, the “animalled,” or “zoos,” marks a working through of the persistence of forms of stigmatization, violence, and exclusion in its present.

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