Drawing inspiration from the so-called ontological turn in anthropology and enactivist philosophy, this article argues that a significant strand of twenty-first-century fiction responds to ontological challenges through stylistic and narrative means, and that this engagement can help differentiate contemporary literary practices from postmodernist ones. No longer linguistically autonomous or dualistically separate from the nonhuman world, the (human) subject is brought back into the fold of nonhuman materiality, even as a number of conceptual and affective tensions emerge in the process. The article offers a close reading of Ali Smith's novel How to Be Both (2014) to explore this destabilization of subjectivity in the contemporary novel and how it speaks to contemporary anxieties surrounding the human's entanglement with materiality conceived of in physical, biological, or technological terms.

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