This article examines how the novel Who Fears Death (2010) by Nnedi Okorafor rewrites the conventional narrative of time as progress and thereby offers a conception of present and future African identity that does not solely rely on colonial history. In my analysis, Okorafor's inventive use of intertextuality and the subversion of "sovereign narratives" work to create an alternative model of identity. The novel is set in a fictional postapocalyptic future Africa in which one tribe, the Nuru, enslaves and oppresses another, the Okeke. The powerful and passionate heroine Onyesonwu sets out to rewrite the "Great Book" and thereby deprive her father, the dictatorial sorcerer Daib, of his powers. Besides addressing the issue of dictatorship and resistance in the content, the novel explores dictatorship through dictation, the effects of epistemological narratives on society and collective identity. The rewriting of the Great Book, which represents the grand narrative of slavery, creates space to enable a different story to be told. Okorafor disrupts linear conceptions of progress within the structure of the story but also by situating herself intertextually in a body of work that transgresses boundaries of time, space, and genre. Thus, identity emerges as constituted within a multidirectional network rather than by building up on history.


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pp. 207-222
Launched on MUSE
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