restricted access Inside and Outside the Hyena’s Belly: Nega Mezlekia and the Politics of Time and Authorship

After first-time author Nega Mezlekia won the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction with his memoir Notes from the Hyena’s Belly: Memories of My Ethiopian Childhood, Anne Stone, an established Canadian writer, came out in the media with the claim that she had written all but 20 pages of the draft that went to Mezlekia’s publisher. This essay examines the authorship controversy that followed these allegations by teasing out the politics of time and authorship that underlie the controversy and textual level of Mezlekia’s memoir. It shows that the textual and extratextual dimensions of the memoir are loci of isochronic and allochronic forces that co-exist and clash on highly uneven terms in the contact zones of authorship, narrative form, textual narrative, and copyright. While this essay focusses on a specific case, its objective transcends this specificity in that it explores the positive potential of allochronic time as a force that complicates the modern legal and cultural notions of the imprinted author, of the space- and time-independent nature of print, and of an isochronic world in which everything happens at the same universal intervals of time.