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Zombies in Literature: Background information when reading Zone One

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Zone One

A Novel

by Colson Whitehead

Zone One
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Zombies in Literature

They're the undead dreaded monsters that feast on the brains of the living. But what exactly is the origin of the zombie? No one knows for sure - perhaps it's the Haitian belief that animals can be brought back to life via witchcraft; or maybe it's the jiang shi (reanimated dead body) in Chinese folklore that lives off others' qi or life forces; or what about the evil Dybbuk in Jewish fables that consumes the spirits of lost souls?

The Magic Island Though a definitive mythology of the origin of zombies isn't entirely clear, these ghastly ghouls - in some form or variation - have been a part of the Western literary tradition for centuries. Mary Shelley's 1818 Frankenstein introduced the idea of harvesting body parts of the dead, and in H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West: Re-animator (1921), a doctor concocts a potion that revives corpses. According to an article in Time magazine in 1940, the word "zombi" - which probably comes from the Kongo word Nzambi, the name of an African voodoo snake-deity - ...

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