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In Legal Fictions, Karla FC Holloway argues that U.S. racial identity is the creation of U.S. law, and she shows how black authors of literary fiction have engaged with the law's constructions of race since the era of slavery. Exploring the resonance between U.S. literature and U.S. jurisprudence, Holloway reveals Toni Morrison's Beloved and Charles Johnson's Middle Passage as stories about personhood and property, David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as structured by evidence law, and Nella Larsen's Passing as intimately related to contract law.
Holloway engages the intentional, contradictory, and capricious constructions of race embedded in the law with the same energy that she brings to her bravura interpretations of fiction by U.S. writers. Her readings shed new light on the many ways that black U.S. authors have reframed fundamental questions about racial identity, personhood, and the law from the nineteenth century into the twenty-first. Legal Fictions is a bold declaration that the black body is thoroughly bound by law and an unflinchingly look at the implications of that claim.