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This exploration of class, feminism, and cultural identity (including issues of race, nation, colonialism, and economic imperialism) focuses on the work of four writers: the Mozambican Mia Couto, the Portuguese José Saramago, the Brazilian Clarice Lispector and the South African J. M. Coetzee. In the first section, the author discusses the political aspects of Couto’s collection of short stories Contos do nascer da terra (Stories of the Birth of the Land) and Saramago’s novel O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis). The second section explores similar themes in Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K and Lispector’s A hora da estrela (The Hour of the Star). Marques argues that these four writers are political in the sense that they bring to the forefront issues pertaining to the power of literature to represent, misrepresent, and debate matter related to different subaltern subjects: the postcolonial subject, the poor subject (the "poor other"), and the female subject. She also discusses the "ahuman other" in the context of the subjectivity of the natural world, the dead, and the unborn, and shows how these aspects are present in all the different societies addressed and point to the mystical dimension that permeates most societies. With regard to Couto's work, this "ahuman other" is approached mostly through a discussion of the holistic, animist values and epistemologies that inform and guide Mozambican traditional societies, while in further analyses the notion is approached via discussions on phenomenology, elementality, and divinity following the philosophies of Lévinas and Irigaray and mystical consciousness in Zen Buddhism and the psychology of Jung.
South African Storytellers and Resistance
The oral and written traditions of the Africans of South Africa have provided an understanding of their past and the way the past relates to the present. These traditions continue to shape the past by the present, and vice versa. From the time colonial forces first came to the region in 1487, oral and written traditions have been a bulwark against what became 350 years of colonial rule, characterized by the racist policies of apartheid. The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance is the first in-depth study of how Africans used oral traditions as a means of survival against European domination.
Africans resisted colonial rule from the beginning. They participated in open insurrections and other subversive activities in order to withstand the daily humiliations of colonial rule. Perhaps the most effective and least apparent expression of subversion was through indigenous storytelling and poetic traditions. Harold Scheub has collected the stories and poetry of the Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele peoples to present a fascinating analysis of how the apparently harmless tellers of tales and creators of poetry acted as front-line soldiers.
Alexander Pushkin and Blackness
The first single volume in English on this rich topic, Under the Sky of My Africa addresses the wide variety of interests implicated in the question of Pushkin's blackness. In essays that are by turns biographical, iconographical, cultural, and sociological in focus, the authors representing a broad range of disciplines and perspectives take us from the complex attitudes toward race in Russia during Pushkin's era to the surge of racism in late Soviet and post Soviet contemporary Russia. Under the Sky of My Africa provides a wealth of basic material on the subject as well as a series of provocative readings and interpretations that will influence future considerations of Pushkin and race in Russian culture.
War and Peace in Contemporary Eritrean Poetry focuses on Eritrean written poetry from roughly the last three decades of the twentieth century. The poems appear in the anthology Who Needs a Story? Contemporary Eritrean Poetry in Tigrinya, Tigre and Arabic from which a selection is offered here in their original scripts of Ge'ez or Arabic, and in English translation. Who Needs a Story? is the first anthology of contemporary poetry from Eritrea ever published, and War and Peace in Contemporary Eritrean Poetry is the first book on the subject. Therefore, the groundbreaking effort of the former warrants a discussion of its means of cultural production. All of the poets in Who Needs a Story? participated in the Eritrean struggle for independence (1961-91) as freedom fighters and/or as supporters in the Eritrean diaspora. Thus, contemporary Eritrean poetry divides itself between experiences of war and peace, although one can contain the other as well. War and Peace in Contemporary Eritrean Poetry also includes an extended analysis of one of Eritrea's most famous contemporary poets Reesom Haile, as an example of the kind of extended analysis that many of the poets of Who Needs a Story? should stimulate and, last but not least, a meditation on how the author, a non-native speaker, personally becomes involved in Eritrean poetry translation.
The Politics of Spiritual Liberation in African Diaspora Women's Fiction
Witches, Goddesses and Angry Spirits: The Politics of Spiritual Liberation in African Diaspora Women’s Fiction explores African diaspora religious practices as vehicles for Africana women’s spiritual transformation, using representative fictions by three contemporary writers of the African Americas who compose fresh models of female spirituality: Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) by Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat; Paradise (1998) by African American Nobel laureate Toni Morrison; and I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1992) by Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé.