Abstract

In the last decade, three novels by African-British authors have been published that portray characters who could be seen as presenting symptoms of dissociative disorder: Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love (2010), Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl (2005), and Brian Chikwava’s Harare North (2009). In each of them, an alternative explanatory framework of spirit possession is also explored. This essay examines what is at stake in juxtaposing such “African” and “Western” viewpoints within the fictional form. It finds that while Forna’s novel largely conforms to a traditional model of traumatic experience, the non-realist writing of Oyeyemi and, especially, Chikwava might be seen as disrupting the trauma paradigm, not in order to replace it with an Africa-centered perspective, but rather to explore the fictional potential of divorcing the “trauma aesthetic” from the actual experience of trauma.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 119-132
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-04
Open Access
No
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