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From The Whodunit? To The Whydunit?
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.
African Literature, Environmental Justice, and Political Ecology
Engaging important discussions about social conflict, environmental change, and imperialism in Africa, Different Shades of Green points to legacies of African environmental writing, often neglected as a result of critical perspectives shaped by dominant Western conceptions of nature and environmentalism. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework employing postcolonial studies, political ecology, environmental history, and writing by African environmental activists, Byron Caminero-Santangelo emphasizes connections within African environmental literature, highlighting how African writers have challenged unjust, ecologically destructive forms of imperial development and resource extraction.
Different Shades of Green also brings into dialogue a wide range of African creative writing—including works by Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Zakes Mda, Nuruddin Farah, Wangari Maathai, and Ken Saro-Wiwa—in order to explore vexing questions for those involved in the struggle for environmental justice, in the study of political ecology, and in the environmental humanities, urging continued imaginative thinking in effecting a more equitable, sustain¬able future in Africa.
Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice
Drawing the Line examines the ways in which cultural, political, and legal lines are imagined, drawn, crossed, erased, and redrawn in post-apartheid South Africa through literary texts, artworks, and other forms of cultural production. Under the rubric of a philosophy of the limit and with reference to a range of signifying acts and events, this book asks what it takes to recalibrate a sociopolitical scene, shifting perceptions of what counts and what matters, of what can be seen and heard, of what can be valued or regarded as meaningful. The book thus argues for an aesthetics of transitional justice and makes an appeal for a postapartheid aesthetic inquiry, as opposed to simply a political or a legal one. Each chapter brings a South African artwork, text, speech, building, or social encounter into conversation with debates in critical theory and continental philosophy, asking: What challenge do these South African acts of signification and resignification pose to current literary-philosophical debates?
Regreening African Landscapes
Eco-Critical Literature: Regreening African Landscapescritically examines the representations, constructions, and imaginings of the relationship between the human and non-human worlds in contemporary African literature and culture. It offers innovative, incisive, and critical perspectives on the importance of sustaining a symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment. The book thus carries African scholarship beyond the mere analysis of themes and style to ethical and activist roles of literature having an impact on readers and the public. It is a scholarship geared towards rectifying ecological imbalance that is prevalent in many parts of the continent that forms the setting, context, and thematic discourse of the works or authors studied in this book. Besides sensitizing the African readership to the need for the restoration of harmony between man and the environment, this book equally aims to further familiarize scholars and students working on African literature and culture with the theoretical concerns of eco-criticism.
Anglophone Cameroon Literary Drama
Education of the Deprived is a perceptive socio-artistic examination of the key works of some major writers of Anglophone Cameroon literary drama today. For over two decades now socio-political developments in Cameroon, including the liberalization of the press, have led to an unprecedented proliferation of political, journalistic and imaginative writings. Availing themselves of their new-found freedom of expression, Cameroonians in general are forcefully articulating their views more than even before, and creative writers, in particular, are artistically recording intimate and painful experiences in the on-going endeavour to make sense of the socio-political environment; they are mapping out, through images and symbols, the peculiar contour of the collective Cameroonian soul. What observers have noticed, with regard to Anglophone Cameroon imaginative writing, however, is that there are few significant critical works to match the burgeoning creative literature. While in the 1970s there was a cry concerning the scarcity of imaginative works by Anglophone Cameroonians, the complaint now, at the turn of the 21st century, is that there is a dearth of critical literature capable of catapulting, on to the international literary scene, the Anglophone Cameroon literature being written. This book covers both traditional and modern drama as written by Anglophones, lays bare the technical differences between the two dramatic traditions, and brings out the central themes developed by these committed dramatists.
Ethics, Poetics, and Politics
In 2007 the French newspaper Le Monde published a manifesto titled “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” signed by forty-four writers, many from France’s former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto’s proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims of francophonie.
In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term “francophone” to “world literature in French,” Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents—Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.
Marriage and the African Woman in Eighteenth-Century British Literature, 1759-1808
As the eighteenth century is entirely bereft of narratives written by African women, one might assume that these women had little to no impact on British literature and the national psyche of the period. Yet these kinds of assumptions are belied by the influence of one prominent African woman featured in the period’s literary texts. Imoinda’s Shade examines the ways in which British writers utilize the most popular African female figure in eighteenth-century fiction and drama to foreground the African woman’s concerns and interests as well as those of a British nation grappling with the problems of slavery and abolition. Imoinda, the fictional phenomenon initially conceived by Aphra Behn and subsequently popularized by Thomas Southerne, has an influence that extends well beyond the Oroonoko novella and drama that established her as a formidable presence during the late Restoration period. This influence is palpably discerned in the characterizations of African women drawn up in novels and dramas written by late-eighteenth-century British writers. Through its examinations of the textual instances from 1759–1808 when Imoinda and her involvement in the Oroonoko marriage plot are being transformed and embellished for politicized ends, Imoinda’s Shade demonstrates how this period’s fictional African women were deliberately constructed by progressive eighteenth-century writers to popularize issues of rape, gynecological rebellion, and miscegenation. Moreover, it shows how these specific African female concerns influence British antislavery, abolitionist, and post-slavery discourse in heretofore unheralded, unusual, and sometimes radical ways.
The Dissemination of Cameroon Anglophone Literature
This is a foundational text on the production and dissemination of Anglophone Cameroon literature. The Republic of Cameroon is a bilingual country with English and French as the official languages. Ashuntantang shows that the pattern of production and dissemination of Anglophone Cameroon literature is not only framed by the minority status of English and English-speaking Cameroonians within the Republic of Cameroon, but is also a reflection of a postcolonial reality in Africa where mostly African literary texts published by western multi-national corporations are assured wide international accessibility and readership. This book establishes that in spite of these setbacks, Anglophone Cameroon writers have produced a corpus of work that has enriched the genres of prose, poetry and drama, and that these texts deserve a wider readership.
It is more than forty seven years ago that the Federation of black African students in France (FEANF) organised its first seminar in Paris on the relationship between black African literature and politics. The significance of the event came from the fact that literature served as a vehicle for unmasking traitors in Africa. This was also an opportunity for African students to define the role of literature in political struggles and to appreciate correctly and objectively the commitments of African writers in French. At no time was it a question of over emphasising the importance of this type of work in relation to the immense political challenges in the liberation struggle of African countries. Despite their ideological, religious and philosophical differences, African intellectuals were all committed to African independence and unity, and the need for a critical appraisal of the contribution of African literature in this regard. Participants at this seminar accomplished this task in serenity and with much lucidity. The young generation of pupils and students have the right to know the opinions of their elders who took part, in various degrees and for various reasons, in the struggles for independence on the African continent.
Ousmane SembËne started writing by 1952. The Black Docker, his first novel inspired by the Marseille experience was published in 1956 by Debresse. In 1957, Amiot Dumont published O Pays, mon beau Peuple, a caustic critic of the colonial plight. This second inaugural piece, clearly autobiographical and sentimental is followed up by a vast knowledge of the strike of the Dakar-Niger railway workers: Godís Bits of Wood published in 1960 by Livre Contemporain. In 1961, PrÈsence Africaine pulished his collection of short stories, VoltaÔque, in 1964 the first volume of líHarmattan which is a replay of the 28th September 1958 referendum in black Africa and in 1966 Vehi-Ciosane followed by The Money Order. To this date with six published novels and a renown Cinematographer, Ousmane SembËne with the help of his sharp pen and his critical and observant look decides to examine the fate that the new bourgeoisie and the administrative bureaucracy mete on the downtrodden of this ignominious beauty, Dakar, the Capital of an African nation in the wake of independence. Thanks to a money order that Ibrahima Dieng wants to cash, the film maker/writer takes this character through the urban administrative labyrinth, through neighbourly disputes and through family life in the neighbourhood, highlighting and pointing in passing the crossings, abuses, vices and vicissitudes which make up this segment of life, in every aspect, exemplary. The story unfolds with the arrival of a postman carrying a letter and a problematic money order; it ends on the image of the postman handing a letter to Dieng, when a woman carrying a baby on her back comes in and interrupts them to expose the origins of her misfortunes, asking for help.