Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. vii

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Introduction: Diaspora Consciousness and Literary Expression

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pp. 1-20

In 1940 W. E. B. Du Bois described his books The Souls of Black Folk and Darkwater as “written in tears and blood.” Dusk of Dawn: An Essay toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept, he said, “is set down no less determinedly but yet with a wider hope in some more benign fluid.”1 In this reference to ink in the opening “Apology” to .Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois calls our attention to writing...

Part I. The Fact of Slavery

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1. "On the Clifflike Margins of Many Cultures": Richard Wright's Travels

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pp. 23-46

In an article published in Ebony magazine in 1953, Richard Wright tells his interviewer, black American writer William Gardner Smith, about his views on writing and his expatriate life in Paris: “People think . . . that because I’m here, I’m out of touch with the States. I find that the reverse is true. I see the States in better perspective from a distance. The outlines of the Negro struggle, and the shape...

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2. The Postcolonial as Post-Enlightenment: Michelle Cliff and the Genealogies of History

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pp. 47-76

Richard Wright’s travel writing about Africa, when read against his essays on “Negro” national literature, shows us how the author sought in his writing a place free from both the romanticization of Africa as homeland and as the space of suffering for a descendant of slaves. Wright emerges as an international black writer, poised “on the clifflike margins of many cultures,” a result of both his physical journeying...

Part II. From Discrimination and Insult to Homes in Diaspora

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3. Harlem on My Mind: Exile and Community in Chester Himes's Detective Fiction

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pp. 79-105

Chester Himes, an American author who never found a “place” in the American literary scene in his lifetime, wrote his detective novels during his French expatriation, setting them in the nostalgic milieu of a Harlem he half created in his own imagination. In the second volume of his autobiography, My Life of Absurdity: The Later Years, Himes states emphatically, “The Harlem of my books was never meant...

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4. "A Landmark in a Foreign Land": Simon Njami's Parisian Scenes

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pp. 106-130

Stuart Hall describes an inside-out relationship to Europe that is also recalled in the writings of other African diasporic authors, such as James Baldwin in “Stranger in the Village” and Caryl Phillips in The European Tribe. Simon Njami echoes this multiplicity of identification when he says, “I don’t feel any belonging. And I think it’s partly due to my strange life. Because whenever I say I’m an...

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5. History's Dispersals: Caryl Phillips's Chorus of the Common Memory

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pp. 131-153

The varied oeuvre of black British writer Caryl Phillips traces the multiple and complex meanings of the term diaspora. Throughout several novels and travelogues, his writing retains a deep skepticism about the meanings of terms like “family” and “membership.” Rather than grant such terms an unquestioned status as key tropes underlying the concept of diaspora, Phillips’s writing excavates...

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Epilogue

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pp. 154-158

This epilogue seeks no closure; it aims to secure no singular reading of black international texts. Each text contributes its own multiple meanings to an ongoing project of diaspora literacy. Abena P. A. Busia reminds us that it is the storyteller who defines diaspora community. Through literature, she says, “We learn to translate dividing borders into a diaspora community, to transform a lack of language...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 159-160

Notes

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pp. 161-178

Works Cited

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pp. 179-192

Index

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pp. 193-199