The focus of this article is on a discernible trend in contemporary African writing, wherein the fiction by mainly (though not exclusively) diasporic African women authors either explicitly or implicitly claims a nation for its women by highlighting the roles that women play in reimagining the (often shattered, or scattered) nation and place from which they have been separated. The article uses the concept of “affiliative critique” to indicate that these women writers hold the nation to account even as they indicate their continuing allegiance to it in their texts—despite the authors’ physical relocation to other countries and continents. The element of critique is strongly gender-inflected and indicates that gender injustice can be seen as one of the causes as well as one of the symptoms of broader failures of the nation-state in the African country of the authors’ origins. The essay juxtaposes novels by three newer writers: Aminatta Forna (focusing on Ancestor Stones, 2006), Sefi Atta (Swallow, 2010), and Cristina Ali Farah (Madre Piccola, 2007—using here the English translation titled Little Mother, 2011). These texts focus, respectively, on Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Somalia. While sufficiently different in what they portray, these novels serve as examples of the powerful and vividly imagined delineations of their troubled nations provided by contemporary African authors and are fine illustrations of the discerning social analysis, searing critique, self-criticism, and ethical insights that the continent’s trend-setting women writers are producing.


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pp. 45-72
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