This article analyzes Claude McKay’s last novel, Amiable with Big Teeth—recently discovered in 2017—as a piece of postcolonial utopianist writing. The novel participates in an important debate on the role of utopias and utopian writing as ideological mechanisms that perpetuate colonial structures such as the nation-state. Through a critique of the Popular Front project in the black community of 1930s Harlem, Amiable with Big Teeth vindicates local knowledges and the assessment of the specific conditions of the present—ever-changing and transformable—in the development of strategies for resistance. As such, the spiritual role of Ethiopia for the community depicted, rather than constitute yet another national utopia, fulfills the same role as it did for the Jamaican Rastafarians: it is a mechanism for group self-assertion and the promotion of self-esteem that subaltern communities need in order to achieve full agency.

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