This article examines how certain works of global fiction have conceived of their ethical and political agency through the form and act of gathering. Discussions of the global novel's relationship to collective life have often adapted the ideas of Benedict Anderson in order to suggest that contemporary fiction extends “imagined community” from the nation to the globe. Yet political theorists such as Wendy Brown have shown how global economic integration under neoliberalism comes at the price of national social disintegration. In search of a collective imaginary outside the terms of global integration and nationalist resurgence, this article looks to the 1930s (rather than 1990s) as an origin point for global fiction, finding in “British” works attuned to the disintegration of the liberal world-system a model of fiction's agency relevant for neoliberal times. Works by Mulk Raj Anand, Virginia Woolf, and, later, Zadie Smith respond to social and political disintegration by insisting upon fiction's capacity to gather together a disparate audience; and they suggest how gatherings afford an unbounded, eventual, and non-sovereign arrangement of collective life within the ruins of global modernity.

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