Naiomi Alderman and The Meaning of Zombies


Alderman considers "all the things that will not lie down and die" in our culture @ Granta.

They sway as they walk. Their feet turn inwards – perhaps they’re walking on their ankles. They’re wounded, each of them in a different way – a bandaged head, a torn shirt revealing a bloody stomach, perhaps a chunk bitten out of the neck. Their clothing is tattered. Each has a bloody mouth. They have ripped these globs of flesh out of each other. Their fingernails are split and bloody. Their mouths hang open. They moan – or perhaps it is more of a sigh, like the long vocalized exhalation that might come from a corpse when you move it, when air trapped in its lungs escapes. They are coming for you. Not quickly – probably not faster than you can move – but inexorably, an untiring horde.

Though we describe vampires as undead, they’re livelier and stronger than most of us. Ghosts are ethereal, often beautiful. But not these shuffling creatures, their arms outstretched, longing for something they can neither describe nor derive satisfaction from. These zombies are the real walking dead. They are corpses who will not lie down.
Where do they come from? Modern vampires date from the eighteenth century, werewolves from the Roman Empire, ghosts from at least 1,000 years before that. Zombies have been around in their current form only since the 1960s and yet they’re everywhere now.
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