Title: Disaster management in a dystopian novel: A case study of JJ Amaworo Wilson’s Damnificados


Vol. 11(1), 2023, pp. 7-16.



Author: Antony Hoyte-West

About the author: Antony Hoyte-West is an interdisciplinary researcher focusing on linguistics, literature, and translation studies. He is particularly interested in historical and contemporary language policy, sociological aspects of the translation and interpreting professions, literary translation studies, and institutional translation and interpreting. A qualified translator and conference interpreter from several languages into his native English, he holds a doctorate in linguistics and postgraduate degrees in languages and social sciences from the universities of St Andrews, Oxford, Galway, and Silesia, as well as two diplomas in piano performance. He is the author of forty-four publications and has presented his research at international conferences in a range of countries.

e-mail: ;             




Citation (APA style): Hoyte-West, А. (2023). Disaster management in a dystopian novel: A case study of JJ Amaworo Wilson’s Damnificados. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 11(1), 7-16.

Abstract: Several years ago, the large number of people living illegally in the so-called Tower of David, an abandoned high-rise building in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, caught the attention of the world’s media. Based on this unlikely source of inspiration, a similar such skyscraper forms the centrepiece to Damnificados, a dystopian novel by JJ Amaworo Wilson, which was first published in 2016. Set in a nameless country, this innovative and engaging novel frequently turns to magic realism in its depiction of the ‘damnificados’, a motley crew of squatters who are under constant threat from external perils, both natural and man-made. Under the guidance of the novel’s hero, Nacho, strategies to manage these threats are developed and implemented, with significant implications for the building’s inhabitants and their welfare. Accordingly, this exploratory contribution aims to identify and apply a relevant disaster management framework to the first of the many calamities portrayed in the novel, which is where the building and the city surrounding it are inundated by a catastrophic flood. In evaluating the inhabitants’ response through the lens of the framework, this study thereby provides an interdisciplinary overview of how disaster management strategies can be represented in literary texts.

Keywords: flood, crisis management, PPRR model, Torre de David, dystopian fiction, emergency response



  1. Alvarez, J. L., & Merchán, C. (1992). The role of narrative fiction in the development of imagination for action. International Studies of Management & Organization, 22(3), 27-45. .
  2. Amaworo Wilson, J. J. (2016). Damnificados. A Novel. PM Press.
  3. Amaworo Wilson, J. J. (2023). About me. .
  4. Barragán, I. (2020). Die Lumpenarmee stürmt den Wolkenkratzer. Der Spiegel (12 March). .
  5. BBC News (2013). Venezuela's Tower of David. .
  6. Blackmore, L. (2017). El Helicoide and La Torre de David as phantom pavilions: Rethinking spectacles of progress in Venezuela. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 36(2), 206-222. .
  7. Blumczynski, P., & Wilson, S. (eds.) (2022). The Languages of COVID-19: Translational and Multilingual Perspectives on Global Healthcare. Routledge. .
  8. Caldieron, J. M. (2013). From a skyscraper to a slumscraper: Residential satisfaction in “Torre de David” Caracas, Venezuela. The Macrotheme Review, 2(5), 138-152.
  9. Chaudhary, M. T., & Piracha, A. (2021). Natural disasters – origins, impacts, management. Encyclopedia, 1(4), 1101-1131. .
  10. Collins English-Spanish Dictionary (2023). Victim. .
  11. Cronstedt, M. (2002). Prevention, preparedness, response, recovery – an outdated concept? The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 17(2), 10-13.
  12. Däwes, B. (2022). Molecular mimicry, realism, and the collective memory of pandemics. Narrative strategies of COVID-19 fiction. DIEGESIS, 11(1), 1-24.
  13. Dynes, R. R. (2000). The dialogue between Voltaire and Rousseau on the Lisbon earthquake: The emergence of a social science view. International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters, 18(1), 97-115. .
  14. Favaro, A. (2021). Relatos desde el confinamiento. Ars & Humanitas, 15(1), 139–153. .
  15. Fonseca, J. A., & Schlueter, A. (2013). Novel approach for decentralized energy supply and energy storage of tall buildings in Latin America based on renewable energy sources: Case study – informal vertical community Torre David, Caracas –Venezuela. Energy, 53, 93-105. .
  16. García Márquez, G. (2014 [1968]). In Evil Hour. Penguin Books.
  17. Gerde, V. W., & Foster, R. S. (2008). X-Men ethics: Using comic books to teach business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 77, 245-258. .
  18. Gorchev, I. (2022). In the mind’s eye: Mental conceptualization of floods by the British and the Bulgarian media. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 10(3), 94-109.
  19. Haney, J. J., Havice, C., & Mitchell, J. T. (2019). Science or fiction: The persistence of disaster myths in Hollywood films. International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters, 37(3), 286-305.
  20. Holley, A., & McArthur, T. (2022). PPRR and AIIMS: A whole-of-government strategy in NSW. The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 37(3), 65-74.
  21. Jerry, T. M., Thomas, D. S. K., Hill, A. A., & Cutter, S. L. (2000). Catastrophe in reel life versus real life: Perpetuating disaster myth through Hollywood films. International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters, 18(3), 383-402. .
  22. Lepore, J. (2017). A Golden Age for dystopian fiction. The New Yorker (29 May). .
  23. Lewis, C. (2006). Risk management and prevention strategies. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 21(3), 47-51.
  24. Liu, K., & Cheung, A. K. F. (eds.) (2022). Translation and Interpreting in the Age of COVID-19. Springer.
  25. Marivat, G. (2019). Avec « Les Dévastés », J. J. Amaworo Wilson conte la légende du bidonville aérien. Le Monde (14 January).
  26. Oxford English Dictionary (2020). dystopia, n.. .
  27. Queensland Government (2023). Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Disaster Management Guideline.
  28. Rhodes, C., & Brown, A. D. (2005). Writing responsibly: Narrative fiction and Organization Studies. Organization, 12(4), 467-491.
  29. Schneider, A. J. (2011). Total Men! Literature, Nationalism, and Masculinity in Early Canada. Doctoral dissertation, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
  30. Sementelli, A. (2007). Toward a taxonomy of disaster and crisis theories. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 29(4), 497-512.
  31. The Guardian (2014). The Tower of David in Caracas, Venezuela – in pictures. .
  32. Voltaire (2006 [1759]). Candide, or Optimism. Penguin Classics.
  33. Weiss, H. F. (1971). Chapter division and chapter heading in the nineteenth-century Novelle. Neophilologus, 55, 290-297.
  34. Wenger, C. (2017). The oak or the reed: how resilience theories are translated into disaster management policies. Ecology and Society, 22(3), 18. .
  35. Wilson, Y. (2022). Torre David au Venezuela : récits sur fond de politiques publiques menées par le gouvernement d’un « État magique ». Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale urbaine et paysagère. .