The events of Zone One center around the streets of New York City, specifically near the African Burial Ground Memorial. As someone who has only ever been to the city twice, I was a bit confused and never truly appreciated the details Whitehead worked so hard to create. Throughout my reading of the novel, what really sparked my interest was the mention of Buffalo. Usually, the biggest mention of my hometown I see in writing is about our wings, so it excited me to see it spoken about with such high regard, as an integral location in the rebuilding of society after the virus. I know this wasn’t the intentions of the author, but the decision of placing Buffalo as the new epicenter of civilization creates a strange connection in my head.
In a bizarre way, Buffalo itself is a zombie. The city has had it’s rise and fall, and is currently in the process of rising again. At one point it was an epicenter of transportation and steel manufacturing but began to decline with many other rust belt cities after the 1950’s. In more recent years, the state has begun work on the city to bring it back to its former glory. Looking at the date of publication also supports this idea, as in 2011, when this book was published, huge renovations were being done to the downtown area. The city was once alive and thriving, saw what can be considered a death, and has began to reach a level of prominence once again.
To many of you, the history of Buffalo may not exactly be the most intrigue information or what you immediately think of when the word zombie is mentioned. But I think these small openings in Whitehead’s writings leave so much room for each individual to do some personal exploration in the work. Simultaneously, he was able to add miraculous detailing while also leaving room for the reader to insert their own knowledge. Being able to insert oneself into the reading is the best way to create an impact on the reader, and I will always give praise to Whitehead for his amazing ability.
Oh, and go Bills.