This essay examines the shifting forms of racial representation evident in American fiction since the 1970s, with the waning influence of earlier models of depth reading, demystification, and corrective mimesis. In characterizing this shift, Dubey takes her cue from the term racecraft, coined by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields to capture the epistemic and political confusion surrounding the category of race in the post–civil rights decades. In an era in which the distinction between the truths and lies of the race concept no longer carries much rhetorical force, American novelists approach the category of race as a fiction rather than a lie, focusing on its distinctive conditions of credibility rather than its adequacy to reality. Purposefully conflating literal and figurative, material and metaphorical registers of racial reference, American fiction since the 1970s exemplifies an aesthetic—distinct not only from older models of corrective mimesis but also from the widely heralded post-postmodern realisms of the present—that is uniquely calibrated to the ruses of American racecraft in the post–civil rights decades.

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