Abstract

This article traces the history of the Swahili novel in its development from realism to experimental prose and follows the experimental phase back to realism in the recent works of some former literary experimenters. This trend is called and defined here as “neo-realism.” The motivation for this return to realism is found in the domains of aesthetics, didacticism, reception of literature, politics and economy, and philosophy. The primacy of aesthetic and philosophical reasons motivating the move to “neo-realism” is questioned and emphasis is placed on the political and social driving forces behind Swahili “neo-realist” writing. While postcolonial authors insist on the empowerment of the periphery, the affirmation of alterity, and economic and social development, the experimental novel appears to work against these aims through its glorification of chaos, of pathological states of mind, dissolving values, collapsing causality, undermining temporal and spatial orientation, disrupting cognitive continuity and clarity, and subverting language. The complexity of the experimental novel is perceived as an obstacle to an implementation of literature’s declared political and social agendas, such as criticism of corruption, women empowerment, education about medical issues, and ecology.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 15-31
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-06
Open Access
No
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