With a gendered rereading of Ahmadou Kourouma's canonical text, this article seeks to render some blind spots in African literary criticism visible and bring particular complexities of Les Soleils des indépendances (1968) into the line of sight for new generations of critical readers. Because of its powerful evocation of the misery of post-independence urban life, Kourouma's literary debut has traditionally been read as an illustration of Africa's disenchanting political predicament after independence. Although Les Soleils des indépendances is duly ranked among classic examples of the African novel of disenchantment, such as Chinua Achebe's A Man of the People (1966) and Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), an all too exclusive critical focus on the political predicament of the novel's male protagonist, Fama, has obscured the important role played by his equally disillusioned wife, Salimata. I will demonstrate that Kourouma's Salimata is more than a metaphor for the nation's political predicament and her husband's female counterpart, as has been suggested by other critics. Rather, Salimata's life story enables Kourouma to offer, even in this early novel of disenchantment, a unique gender critique on the male-dominated genre and its critical reception more than a decade before women's issues more widely began to receive the limelight in African literature and criticism.


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pp. 91-104
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