restricted access Literature, Community, and Violence: Reading African Literature in the West, Post-9/11

Most of the African literature that is widely read is fiction written in French or English and published in the West, and much of that literature features violence. In addressing the question of how we read representations of violence in African literature, and how it functions symbolically, we are inquiring into how literature of violence succeeds or fails as art in general, regardless of culture. Three scenarios emerge: the representations may either overwhelm us with a sense of banality, impress us with the demonic, or offer a sense of the sublime. This essay explores those issues in African works from Okri to Mezlekia, Kourouma, and Djebar to show that violence is always local, but the causes they address are indeed global.