After Critique identifies an ontological turn in contemporary U.S. fiction that distinguishes our current literary moment from both postmodernism and so-called post-postmodernism. This turn to ontology takes many forms, but in general After Critique highlights a body of literature-work from Colson Whitehead, Uzodinma Iweala, Karen Yamasthia, Helena Viramontes, Percival Everett, Mat Johnson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Tom McCarthy-that favors presence over absence, being over meaning, and connection over reference. These authors' interest in producing literary value ontologically rather than representationally stems from their sense that neoliberalism's capacious grasp on contemporary language and discourse-its ability to control both sides of a conceptual debate or argument-has made it nearly impossible to write beyond neoliberalism's grip. This is particularly distressing for authors invested in contemporary politics as neoliberalism renders any number of political problems circularly undecidable.
Taking up four different political themes-human rights, the relation between public and private space, racial justice, and environmentalism-After Critique suggests that the ontological forms emerging in contemporary U.S. fiction articulate a version of politics that might successfully evade neoliberal appropriation. This is a politics which replaces critique and its reliance on representation with ontology and its ever-shifting configurations and assemblages.