Displacing the American Dream in Mat Johnson’s “Drop”


  • Agnese Marino




race studies, American dream, Mat Johnson, Foucault, heterotopia, Drop


Mat Johnson’s first work, Drop (2000), explores the themes of the American Dream and Nightmare in relation to issues of racial and national identity, racial inequality, and personal growth. The protagonist, a poor but talented African American man, decides to expatriate to England to chase the dream which he is denied at home. When his English Pygmalion dies, he is forced to return to the US and face the nightmare of racism, exclusion, and fear. However, he has also the chance to reconcile with his community, which will eventually help him leave the country again. This paper analyses Johnson’s use of the theme of expatriation in light of Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia and argues that, through heterotopia, the author is able to enact a decentring strategy which undermines national ideology and focuses on the active role played by the Black community in its members’ self-improvement. 


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