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Detective Fiction and The African Scene

From The Whodunit? To The Whydunit?

Linus Asong

Publication Year: 2012

From its very inception, detective fiction has enjoyed a great popularity among the young and the old, the learned and the not so learned. By some unfortunate stroke of irony, its respect has not kept pace with its enormous popularity. For over half a century now, it has remained the bane of creative writing. In strict intellectual circles, it is very rare to find people talk defensively and interestingly about the genre. Yet Asong has chosen to do just that. He has stoutly defended the weak by putting up a good case for its continued existence. He has also shown how irresistible key elements of the genre are to even the best respected novelists. Finally he has demonstrated for the first time, how the genre has been domesticated by African writers of very great repute such as Ngugi, Sembene and Lessing. That he has been able to prove that these writers have used techniques of detective fiction is a significant broadening of the horizons for appreciating creative writing in Africa.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title page

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Copyright page

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Contents

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pp. iii-iv

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Introduction

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pp. v-

With only a few dissenting voices, it has now become an incontestable fact of literary history that the detective novel in all its ramifications … Thrillers, Spy, Crime and Mystery Novels… belongs to an inferior class of literature. Arthur G. Kennedy and Donald B. Sands (1960:61), to mention only one of several common cases, ...

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Chapter I - The State of the Genre

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pp. 1-18

“Critics, the makers and breakers of men of letters,” says N. J. Tremblay (1954: 217), “are always wary of mass production and the esteem of the multitude; this, they judge, smacks of a certain cheapness.” True to fact, judged by sheer output alone, the rate of production of writers of detective fiction gives sufficient cause for ...

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Chapter II - The African Scene

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pp. 19-44

Roman Jakobson (1971:82), the renowned Russian Formalist and Structuralist, recognized in every work of art the “dominant,” or the focusing component, the element which, he says, “… dominates the entire structure and thus acts as its mandatory and inalienable constituent dominating all the remaining elements and exerting direct influence upon them.” ...

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Chapter III - The WHYDUNIT

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pp. 45-54

In spite of the great lengths to which I have gone in the previous chapter to establish some measure of similarity between Petals of Blood, Perpétue, The Grass is Singing and Xala on the one hand, and detective novels on the other, it would be a sweeping generalization to call these works detective novels in the known and generally accepted sense of the word. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 55-56

Despite the prolificity of detective fiction writers, and despite the phenomenal popularity of their works and their consequent financial successes, the highbrow circles of the intellectual world have not readily admitted such fiction into the fold of respectable literature. African writers, particularly those included here, seem to have achieved something that is immensely vital in the face of the general ...

Bibliography

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pp. 57-62

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956727032
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956727025

Page Count: 69
Publication Year: 2012

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