Through readings of two novels that feature hydroelectric facilities—Peter Abrahams's A Wreath for Udomo and Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift—this article demonstrates how each text grapples in very different ways with the tensions between extractive infrastructures and revolutionary politics. Focusing on a hydroelectric facility yet to be constructed, A Wreath for Udomo reaches for the formal capacities of the novel to stage how the process of formal enclosure specific to and resulting from economic planning results in an analytic enclosure that slowly undoes the possibility of revolutionary anti-capitalism. The Old Drift enacts, I will suggest, an important alternative to the epistemological enclosure foreseen in Abrahams's much earlier novel. Serpell's novel leverages the critical capacity of the historical, genealogical novel to evade the analytical impediments produced by the structure of the hydroelectric dam and the form of economic thinking it both metonymizes and from which such projects result. By constructing parallel revolutionary methods on the levels of characters and readers and content and form, The Old Drift effectively recasts the problem of revolution not in terms of ideological contradiction, as Abrahams does, but as a tension between the constituent components of novelistic and revolutionary totality.

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