Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality by Evan Maina Mwangi

By Evan Maina Mwangi

Explores the metafictional suggestions of latest African novels instead of characterizing them essentially as a reaction to colonialism.

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Beyond aesthetic considerations, African writers have used the “unfamiliar,” especially in political novels, to avoid retaliation by the state or to talk about taboo issues without offending someone. 18 Despite the formalist insinuation that literature has little to do with reflecting the society from which it comes, I undertake a reading of textuality that locates the forms writers enlist to historiographic and political impulses ubiquitous in African literature. The social implications of the forms that the writers adopt would be important in helping us understand the societies from which that literature comes.

It is important to note that any book that seeks to discuss “the contemporary African novel” naturally risks not only overgeneralizing but also suggesting that “the novel” is a Western phenomenon that other cultures imitate or add to, a notion that has been criticized by Chow in The Age 26 Africa Writes Back to Self of the World Target. Chow unmasks the use of the generic term the novel to mean “English (and sometimes French) materials,” while outside Western Europe the term is almost always invoked with a national or an ethnic qualifier (2006, 78).

Therefore, I follow the example set by Ato Quayson, Olakunle George, Deepika Bahri, Wilson-Tagoe, and Simon Gikandi in their various readings of postcolonial literatures in a way that focuses on form without ignoring the sociological facts circumscribing the production, circulation, and consumption of the literatures. While readings of postcolonial literatures tend to focus on politics and sociological data, these critics have been attentive to the aesthetics of the texts, which they place in their social and political contexts in a manner that illumines both the society and the aesthetic objects.

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