African Studies Literature and the Study of Africa
by
Evan Mwangi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0087

Introduction

It is customary for students of African studies in different disciplines to use literary texts to study various aspects of the continent. Some use European-authored creative works to examine the images of Africa in the Western imagination, especially in works based on Europeans’ travels to Africa between the 15th century and the late 19th century. Many major European writers (e.g., Shakespeare, Rider Haggard, Miguel de Cervantes, and Conrad) have referred to Africa and Africans in their writings, hence eliciting a rich body of commentaries by Africanists in different disciplines. The 20th century has seen the rise of studies of Africa from indigenous perspectives and in different languages spoken in the continent. Because of the breath, volume, and diversity of African literature, it is next to impossible to discuss it comprehensively as a single category. Institutions, especially in Africa, break the subject into different subsets based on region (e.g., “West African literature”), language (e.g., “Francophone literature”), genre (e.g., “African poetry”) technique (e.g., “magical realist novels”), or literary movements (e.g., “Négritude poetry” or “black consciousness art). This article, therefore, is just a preliminary heuristic attempt to explore the study of Africa in literary texts and the use of African literature to study Africa.

It starts with overviews and surveys of African literature, bibliographies, encyclopedias and reference books, interviews, anthologies, and teaching guides. Then, it presents representative texts on oral and written literatures in different languages, including scholarship on literatures in African languages and writing in the main Europe languages used in Africa: English, French, and Portuguese. The article includes regional categories. Because the study of Africa through literature tends to privilege the novel, this entry includes sections on poetry and drama from different parts of the continent. The article concludes with a section on two theoretical areas that predominate in the study of African literature—namely, the place of modernism in African letters and the presentation of gender and sexuality as cultural signifiers.

General Overviews and Surveys

There are several overviews and surveys on African literatures and criticism, most of which focus on writing from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Joseph 2007 is an easy outline of the major issues, movements, and techniques in African literary studies. Simple and accessible, Cook 1977 is an early model for combining close readings and overviews of African writing in the context of colonial experiences. Gérard 1986 is a two-volume survey of various topics in African literary studies, including nation-based surveys of literary production. Surveying the historical, sociological, cultural, linguistic, and literary contexts in which African literatures are produced, Gérard 1990 offers a succinct overview of the scholarship in African literary studies. Owomoyela 1993 offers overviews based on genres and regions, including an essay on women’s writing. Providing an overview of foundational texts published around the same time, Harrow 1994 offers an excellent model for surveying African while remaining theoretically astute. Irele 2009 is a collection of judiciously selected essays surveying the African novel, including experimental works and the interface between oral and written literatures. For its part, Irele and Gikandi 2004 is a comprehensive two-volume that presents overviews of various topics in African literatures, including chapters on African-language literatures.

  • Cook, David. African Literature: A Critical Overview. London: Longman, 1977.

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    Offers a general overview on African literary art in the context of European colonial legacies. Conducts close readings of fiction and drama by Ekwensi, Ngũgĩ, and Soyinka. Includes discussions of nonfiction works by Jomo Kenyatta, Frantz Fanon, and Lewis Nkosi.

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    • Gérard, Albert S. Contexts of African Literature. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990.

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      Offers a provocative overview of scholarship in African literary studies. Provides historical and cultural contexts in which African literature is produced. Emphasizes the need for comparatist approaches to African literatures. Considers writing in indigenous African languages.

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      • Gérard, Albert, ed. European-Language Writing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1986.

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        This is a two-volume, 1,289-page collection of essays providing overviews on writings about Africa in different languages (e.g., Latin, French, Portuguese, and English). The editor includes essays on national literatures (e.g., Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, etc.) as well as bibliographies.

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        • Harrow, Kenneth. Thresholds of Change in African Literature: The Emergence of a Tradition. Portsmouth, NH, and London: Heinemann, 1994.

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          A wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated work that contains an introductory overview of modern African literature published in the 1950s and 1960s. Includes chapters on Achebe, Bessie Head, Yambo Ouologuem, V. Y. Mudimbe, Camara Laye, Soyinka, Henri Lopes, Sony Labou Tansi, Ferdinand Oyono.

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          • Irele, F. Abiola, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

            DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521855600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This is a collection of fifteen essays on the African novel, surveying different aspects of the genre. The essays survey the complex the genre’s connection to traditional storytelling and its thematic emphases across regions and languages. Topics include overviews of the Afrikaans novel, emergent writing, gender issues, Achebe and the novel, magical realism, and reception of the African novel.

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            • Irele, F. Abiola, and Simon Gikandi, eds. The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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              A two-volume collection of essays covering literary movements and main topics in African literary studies, including literatures in African languages as well as Spanish literature in Africa. Other topics include writing in Kiswahili, Yoruba, and Gikuyu. Covers Arab and Berber oral traditions as well as writing in different colonial languages.

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              • Joseph, George. “African Literature.” In Understanding Contemporary Africa. 4th ed. Edited by April A. Gordon and Donald L. Gordon, 351–395. Boulder, CO: Rienner, 2007.

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                A useful introductory overview of African literature. Includes an outline of literatures in local and European languages. Introduces various genres and includes a rich bibliography. Subtopics cover Sembène Ousmane, postcolonial fiction in French, fiction from colonialism to independence, various genres of poetry, literatures in African languages and in European language, and South African literature, among others. First published in 2001.

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                • Owomoyela, Oyekan, ed. A History of Twentieth-Century African Literatures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

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                  A collection of essays giving an overview of such areas of interest as poetry, drama, and fiction in French, English, and Portuguese. Topics include French-language drama, fiction, and poetry; Anglophone fictions from West, East, and southern African literatures; the question of language in African literary debates. Very useful region-by-region overviews of African literatures.

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                  Bibliographies

                  Bibliographic references on African literature started coming out in notable numbers in the early 1970s. These early bibliographies include Jahn and Dressler 1975, an updated compilation that includes references to previous bibliographic works. However, Zell 2008 is, to date, the most comprehensive, as it is a compilation of bibliographies from the African Book Publishing Record, a journal that offers regular updates on books and journal articles circulating in African studies. Zell 2006 is an evaluative annotated bibliography of African creative works. Zell, et al. 1983 is an extensive reference book that covers authors from across the African continent, while Parekh and Jagne 1998 offers biographies of major postcolonial writers from Africa alongside summaries of their works. Smithe 2002 offers not only a rich bibliography, but also a brief overview of African literature and short biographies of major writers. As one of the most important literary movements, Négritude has been the subject of annotated bibliographies, an example of which is Michael 1988. While most bibliographies limit themselves to works on literatures in European languages, Limb and Volet 1996 lists not only works in colonial languages but studies on writing in Shona, Zulu, and other indigenous languages.

                  • Jahn, Janheinz, and Claus Peter Dressler. Bibliography of Creative African Writing. Millwood, NY: Kraus-Thomson, 1975.

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                    A useful early text that refers to previous texts for bibliographic references. Covers scholarship on early authors (e.g., H. I. E. Dhlomo, Danquah, Peter Abrahams, Tutuola, and Achebe). It is divided into thirty-five sections arranged in alphabetical order by country. Writers also arranged alphabetically within each country-based section. Includes approximately 250 authors and 650 titles. Includes an index. First published in 1971.

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                    • Limb, Peter, and Jean-Marie Volet. Bibliography of African literatures. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1996.

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                      Includes African-language literatures (e.g., Shona, Amharic, Kikuyu, Zulu, and Somali) alongside materials on literatures in European languages, with an emphasis on French and English. Some works in Arabic and Portuguese are included. The book has sections on literatures from different countries (e.g., Zimbabwe, Liberia, etc.). Includes author, gender, and country indexes.

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                      • Michael, Colette Verger. Negritude: An Annotated Bibliography. West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill, 1988.

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                        Although the bulk of the entries are on Francophone literature, where Négritude is most prominently manifested, the book includes works bibliographic references on African works in English (e.g., Peter Abrahams’s fiction and drama), as well as African American literature.

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                        • Parekh, Pushpa Naidu, and Siga Fatima Jagne, eds. Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.

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                          The book includes the profiles and bibliographies on sixty major and upcoming writers (e.g., Nafissatou Diallo, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Mositi Torontle, Dambudzo Marechera, Chinua Achebe, Calixthe Beyala, Bessie Head, Mariama Bâ, and Ayi Kwei Armah). Though dominated by Francophone and Anglophone literature from sub-Saharan Africa, the book includes authors from northern and southern Africa, as well as writers of the Indian diaspora born in Africa.

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                          • Smithe, Jonathan P. African Literature: Overview and Bibliography. New York: Nova Science, 2002.

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                            The volume contains a brief overview on African writing, concise biographies of major authors, and a bibliography. The editor’s introduction emphasizes the diversity of African literature and the distinct characteristics of materials from different African societies. The book includes children’s literature.

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                            • Zell, Hans M. The African Publishing Companion: A Resource Guide. Lochcarron, Scotland: Hans Zell, 2006.

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                              This comprises over 18,000 entries that include annotated bibliographies of literary works produced in Africa. A comprehensive volume, it provides resources for African languages, African cartography and maps, African studies journals, media guides for Africa, African studies library collections worldwide, national archives in Africa, centers of African studies and African studies programs worldwide, and awards and prizes in African studies, among other subjects.

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                              • Zell, Hans M. Publishing, Books and Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography. Lochcarron, Scotland: Hans Zell, 2008.

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                                A compilation of data from The African Book Publishing Record, this book has an introduction by Henry Chakava, a leading African publisher. It is an important reference resource that outlines the growth of publishing and book development in Africa. It is an update of Hans Zell’s Publishing and Book Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Annotated Bibliography (Zell 1983).

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                                • Zell, Hans M., Carol Bundy, and Virginia Coulon, eds. A New Reader’s Guide to African Literature. London: Heinemann, 1983.

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                                  An expansive reference volume that covers authors from different parts of Africa, it was previously published as Reader’s Guide to African Literature, compiled and edited by Hans M. Zell and Helene Silver in 1972. It provides information on anthologies, bibliographies, and critical works on and by English- and French-speaking writers.

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                                  Encyclopedias and Reference Books

                                  As African literature gets incorporated more and more into world literature classes, there have emerged a number of encyclopedias and reference books devoted to the literature. Some of these books are regionally based, while others try to cover the whole continent. Malan 2009 contains brief biographies of over 2,000 African authors and excerpts from some of the major texts. Gikandi 2003 is arguably the most authoritative encyclopedia of African literature, as it contains over 600 alphabetically arranged entries on individual authors, regions, literary movements, literatures on different African languages, and thematic literary topics. Killam and Rowe 2000 presents entries on authors, historical periods, and artistic movements. Killam and Kerfoot 2008 does a similar thing, but includes entries on individual works of art. Since 2007, Columbia University Press has published useful encyclopedias that cover different regions of the continent, focusing on literature in English since 1945. Gikandi and Mwangi 2007 covers eastern African literature, Owomoyela 2008 focuses on West African literature, Roscoe 2008 presents central African literature, while Cornwell, et al. 2010 examines South African literature.

                                  • Cornwell, Gareth, Dirk Klopper, and Craig MacKenzie. The Columbia Guide to South African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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                                    This is an authoritative reference book featuring entries on authors, major texts, and central debates in South Africa that puts the texts in historical and political contexts. While giving detailed outlines of foundational texts, it also gives ample consideration to work emerging from South Africa since the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

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                                    • Gikandi, Simon, and Evan Mwangi. The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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                                      Presents biographies of East African writers and entries on various topics in the region’s literary production. Topics include language use, theater, and poetics. Includes an introduction by Gikandi that explains the late development of the literature and the major issues in East African texts.

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                                      • Gikandi, Simon, ed. Encyclopedia of African Literature. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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                                        A comprehensive volume covering different areas in African literatures. Covers works in different languages. Contains over 600 entries on major African authors, movements, and texts. Provides a useful overview by the editor about the major phases in the development of African writing. Topics include diaspora and Pan-Africanism, the language debates, and Négritude.

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                                        • Killam, D. G., and Alicia L. Kerfoot. Student Encyclopedia of African Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

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                                          This is a rich text of 598 entries that include concise discussions of authors and historical periods, but also individual texts. Includes a bibliography and index. Includes a checklist of novels, plays, short stories, and poetry. Contains entries on well-known works as well as rarely discussed ones (e.g., Lionel Abrahams’s 2005 book Chaos Theory of the Heart and Other Poems Mainly since 1990).

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                                          • Killam, Douglas, and Ruth Rowe, eds. The Companion to African Literatures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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                                            An extraordinarily helpful, alphabetically arranged short entries on individual major African writers and literary topics. The biographies are short and easy to read. Includes entries on key literary texts. Topics include “Afrikaans,” “apartheid,” and “Négritude.” The inclusion of entries on individual works of literature makes the companion invaluable to beginners.

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                                            • Malan, Robin. A-Z of African Writers: A Guide to Modern African Writing in English. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: Shuter, 2009.

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                                              This is an introductory compilation of brief biographies of over 200 African writers. Includes writing in translation. Provides bibliographies of emerging writers (e.g., Helen Oyeyemi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) as well as those of established artists (e.g., Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Bessie Head, and A. C. Jordan). Offers brief excerpts from creative works and comments by critics, as well as quotes from newspaper reviews.

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                                              • Owomoyela, Oyekan. The Columbia Guide to West African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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                                                Presents important West African writers, movements, and debates. Descriptions of major creative works provided. Includes personalities and materials in English from Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria. It includes a comprehensive introduction discussing the growth of West African literature and the main themes and debates in the literary production and analysis.

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                                                • Roscoe, Adrian, ed. The Columbia Guide to Central African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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                                                  Covers central African literature in English and discusses various genres. Offers biographical details about established as well as emergent authors. Includes a chronology and detailed discussions of historiography and literary genres. Discusses works by Europeans trying to legitimize colonial rule.

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                                                  Interviews

                                                  Interviews with African writers have been a good source of perspectives on their writing. Since the 1970s, there have been edited collections of interviews with African authors, some transcriptions from radio interviews. Lindfors 1972 is one of the early volumes bringing together interviews by foundational African writers (e.g., Achebe and Awoonor). Similarly, Duerden and Pieterse 1978 is an early collection of interviews capturing literary developments in the 1960s and 1970s. For its part, Nichols 1981 includes writers from different countries discussing such topics as misrepresentation of Africa and writing in local languages. While early collections of interviews were almost exclusively male, Granqvist and Stotesbury 1989 includes interviews with some of the most prominent women writers who attended the 1986 Second Stockholm Conference of African Writers (e.g., Miriam Tlali and Buchi Emecheta). Lindfors 2002 includes interviews from South African and West African writers in English. Wilkinson 1992 includes important writers from different generations and regions, while James 1990 is the only major publication devoted to interviews with women writers. Although most books of interviews confine themselves to authors of a single language, mainly English, Loimeier 2012 is a wide-ranging German-language collection that includes authors from different linguistic regions of Africa.

                                                  • Duerden, Dennis, and Cosmo Pieterse, eds. African Writers Talking: A Collection of Interviews. London: Heinemann, 1978.

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                                                    Thirty-three interviews with seventeen African writers outlining literary developments in the 1960s. Interviewees include Achebe, Ngũgĩ, Ekwensi, Okigbo, p’Bitek, Richard Rive, Mphahlele, Dennis Brutus, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Mazisi Kunene.

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                                                    • Granqvist, Raoul, and John Stotesbury. African Voices: Interviews with Thirteen African Writers. Sydney, Australia: Dangaroo, 1989.

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                                                      Interviews with writers and critics who attended the Second Stockholm Conference of African Writers in April 1986. These include Kole Omotoso, Jack Mapanje, Wole Soyinka, Sipho Sepamla, and Chris Wanjala. Women artists interviewed include Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo, Lauretta Ngcobo, and Miriam Tlali.

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                                                      • James, Adiola. In their Own Voices: African Women Writers Talk. London: James Currey, 1990.

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                                                        A collection of fifteen interviews conducted in the mid-1980s to recognize women’s contribution to African literature. Interviewees include Zainab Alkali and Ifeoma Okoye, Muthoni Likimani, Molara-Ogundipe Leslie, Ama Ata Aidoo, Buchi Emecheta, Zulu Sofola, and Githae Micere Mugo.

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                                                        • Lindfors, Bernth. Palaver: Interviews with Five African Writers in Texas. Austin African and Afro-American Research Institute. Austin: University of Texas, 1972.

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                                                          One of the earliest collections of interviews with African writers, it includes views on writing and culture by Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Dennis Brutus, Ezekiel Mphahlele, and Kofi Awoonor.

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                                                          • Lindfors, Bernth. Africa Talks Back: Interviews with Anglophone African Writers. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2002.

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                                                            Twenty-eight interviews with leading writers (e.g., Dennis Brutus, Mphahlele, Kofi Awoonor, Grace Ogot, Ola Rotimi, and Joe de Graft). Interviews conducted between 1969 and 1986 in Africa, Europe, and North America. Interviews mainly first published in Palaver (1972), Dem-Say (1974), Mazungumzo (1980), and Kulankhula (1989). Current version has an index, which is missing from previous publications. Pictures at the time of interviews included. Grace Ogot the only woman writer included.

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                                                            • Loimeier, Manfred, ed. Wortschätze: Interviews mit afrikanischen Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftstellern. Berlin: Horlemann Verlag, 2012.

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                                                              A German-language collection of interviews with writers from different African nations, it includes interviews with well-known artists (e.g., Pepetela, Chinua Achebe, Ahmadou Kourouma, and Zoë Wicomb). Included also are emergent South writers: Maakomele Mak Manaka, Napo Masheane, and Lebobang Mashile.

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                                                              • Nichols, Lee. Conversations with African Writers. Washington, DC: VOA, 1981.

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                                                                A collection of interviews with different writers (e.g., Akinwumi Isola, Bessie Head, Grace Ogot, and Efua Sutherland). Based on radio interviews with the writers. Topics include writing in African language and translation.

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                                                                • Wilkinson, Jane. Talking with African Writers: Interviews with African Poets, Playwrights & Novelists. London: J. Currey, 1992.

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                                                                  Interviews with fifteen African writers on such topics as their politics and aesthetic choices. Includes select bibliographies for each writer. Authors interviewed include foundational artists (e.g., Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Kofi Awoonor, Mazisi Kunene, and Chinua Achebe) as well as younger writers (e.g., Odia Ofeimun, Ben Okri, Kofi Anyidoho, and Njabulo Ndebele). Tsitsi Dangarembga and Micere Githae Mugo are among the women artists interviewed.

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                                                                  Anthologies

                                                                  Because of its sheer breadth, African literature is usually taught using collections of short stories, poems, essays, and excerpts that offer a sense of the continent’s diversity. For example, edited by one of the most respected poets in Africa, Soyinka 1975 is a collection of poems that includes work by all the major poets (e.g., Senghor, Okigbo, and p’Bitek). While Achebe and Innes 1985 gives priority to Anglophone materials, Achebe and Innes 1992 includes a wider range of short stories. Gray 2000 also collects in a single volume of short stories originally written in different languages. For its part, Bruner 1995 is one of the anthologies of short stories that brings together work by women writers from across the continent. Chipasula and Chipasula 1995 also focuses on women’s writing in a resourceful collection of poetry. While most collections focus on a single genre, Kalu 2007 is one of the anthologies that includes different forms and genres including oral literature and modern poetry. There have also been collections of work published by younger writers, most of whom have not yet published single-authored books. Such works include Caine Prize for African Writing 2009, one of the yearly collections of short stories short-listed for the prize.

                                                                  • Achebe, Chinua, and Catherine L. Innes. African Short Stories. London: Heinemann, 1985.

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                                                                    A collection of twenty short stories from mainly Anglophone Africa, the book offers work by established writers (e.g., Nadine Gordimer, Dambudzo Marechera, Bessie Head, Grace Ogot, Chinua Achebe, and Ama Ata Aidoo). Includes Sembène Ousmane (Senegal) and Luis Bernardo Honwana (Mozambique).

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                                                                    • Achebe, Chinua, and Catherine L. Innes. The Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories. Oxford: Heinemann, 1992.

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                                                                      A selection of twenty stories written in the 1980s, the book offers work by writers from different countries, including rarely discussed authors such as Saida Hagi-Dirie Herzi (Somalia) and Tololwa Marti Mollel (Tanzania). Established writers (e.g., Gordimer, Ndebele, Mia Couto, and Assia Djebar) also included.

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                                                                      • Bruner, Charlotte H., ed. The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Writing. Oxford: Heinemann, 1995.

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                                                                        A collection of twenty-two short stories and excerpts from novels by women, the book includes new writers. Writers in the volume include Andrée Chedid, Zoë Wicomb, and Assia Djebar. The authors present everyday experiences. The book is divided into sections covering North Africa, southern Africa, East Africa, and West Africa. Themes covered include growing up as a woman in Africa, exploitation of girls, veils in Islamic communities, and identity.

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                                                                        • The Caine Prize for African Writing. Work in Progress and Other Stories. Oxford: New Internationalist, 2009.

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                                                                          One of the collections of short stories short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing, the collection showcases work by sixteen new 21st-century authors from across the continent, including Mamle Kabu (Ghana), Brian Jame (Sierra Leone), E. C. Osondu (Nigeria), Mukoma Ngũgĩ (Kenya), and the year’s winner, Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa).

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                                                                          • Chipasula, Stella, and Frank Chipasula, eds. The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry. Oxford: Heinemann, 1995.

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                                                                            This is an extensive volume of diverse women’s poetry from different parts of Africa, it includes work translated into English from other European languages as well as from African indigenous languages. Themes covered include death, love, colonial domination, motherhood, and human dignity. Contributions from Zindzi Mandela, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ifi Amadiume, and Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, among others.

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                                                                            • Gray, Stephen, ed. Picador Book of African Stories. London: Picador, 2000.

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                                                                              An English-language collection of thirty-nine stories originally written in different languages, the book contains work from diverse parts of Africa, including Indian Ocean African islands. Writers in the collection include Ahdaf Soueif (Egypt), Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco), and Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe). Some stories were originally written in French, Arabic, and Afrikaans.

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                                                                              • Kalu, Anthonia C. The Rienner Anthology of African Literature. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2007.

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                                                                                A 976-page volume of a wide-ranging set of works, it includes well-known authors (e.g., Mariama Bâ, Bessie Head, Dennis Brutus, Tayeb Salih, and Ferdinand Oyono) as well as lesser-known figures (e.g., the Kenyan Walter Odame). A comprehensive sampling of African literature, the collection covers poetry, prose, drama, and oral literature.

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                                                                                • Soyinka, Wole, ed. Poems of Black Africa. London: Secker and Warburg, 1975.

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                                                                                  A significant thematic selection of poetry, it includes mainly poetry by now-well-known writers: for example, Dennis Brutus, Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, Chris Okigbo, Noémia de Sousa, and Jared Angira. Themes presented include mortality, exile, ancestors and gods, and land liberty. In the brief introduction, Soyinka suggests the need to move away from national identification of writers and focus more on their themes and concerns.

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                                                                                  Teaching Guides

                                                                                  The institutionalization of African literature in the academy has attracted discussions on how it should be best taught. Hale and Priebe 1976 is also an early compilation of conference papers discussing how African texts can be taught to students from various backgrounds and regions, including the Caribbean and southern parts of the United States. For its part, Gunner 1987 offers tips on how to teach mainly college classes using African literary texts. Glasgow and Rice 2007 examines the use of various African texts in multicultural classes in the United States, especially in high schools. Hay 2000 is an edited volume of essays discussing a range of authors and topics, including gender in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s fiction. Emenyonu 2011 is also an edited volume of scholarly articles by teacher of African literature on how to select materials, construct a syllabus, and facilitate in-class and online discussions. Lindfors 1995 explores various issues in the teaching of African literature, including what to expect in the job market. There have been guidebooks on teaching individual authors and texts, one of which is Lindfors 1991, which focuses on teaching Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Desai 2009 is a useful guide on teaching various disciplines using the African novel.

                                                                                  • Desai, Gaurav, ed. Teaching the African Novel. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009.

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                                                                                    This is a collection of twenty-three essays written by experts on how to teach different topics using African literary texts. Covering popular novels as well as canonical texts, it includes discussions on how to teach politics in the African novel, teaching law and human rights, and tackling the themes of sexuality in African fiction. The introductory essay discusses teaching resources available to teachers of the African novel.

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                                                                                    • Emenyonu, Ernest N., ed. Teaching African Literature Today. Suffolk, UK: James Currey, 2011.

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                                                                                      A collection of essays offering theoretical and pedagogical perspectives on teaching African literature in African institutions and in the United States, including the use of Internet resources. The teacher discuss the use of various authors in the classroom (e.g., Doris Lessing, Ben Okri, Syl Cheney-Coker, and Ahmadou Kourouma). Teaching of oral literature included.

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                                                                                      • Glasgow, Jacqueline, and Linda J. Rice, eds. Exploring African Life and Literature: Novel Guides to Promote Socially Responsive Learning. Newark, DE: International Reading, 2007.

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                                                                                        The book discusses ways of using African texts to make English lessons captivating. Works discussed include books by well-known writers (e.g., Dangarembga, Achebe, Patton, Gordimer, and Bessie Head) as well as books by less-analyzed authors like Dalene Mathee and Rachel Isadora.

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                                                                                        • Gunner, Elizabeth. A Handbook for Teaching African Literature. London: Heinemann, 1987.

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                                                                                          A teacher’s guide, especially in high schools and colleges in the West, it offers a strong rationale for the study of African literature and gives advice and tips on handling uncomfortable topics (e.g., racism). Includes excerpts from written and oral texts from Africa.

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                                                                                          • Hale, Thomas A., and Richard Priebe, ed. The Teaching of African Literature: Selected Working Papers from the African Literature Association. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976.

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                                                                                            Includes discussions on the best methodologies and texts to use in diverse classes, including the employment of audiovisual resources and comparative approaches to texts.

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                                                                                            • Hay, Margaret Jean, ed. African Novels in the Classroom. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.

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                                                                                              A discussion of major African novels and memoirs studied in different disciplines at college level, the book includes analysis of works by such established authors as Tayeb Salih, Peter Abrahams, Buchi Emecheta, Chinua Achebe, and Driss Chraïbi as well as emergent ones (e.g., the Zimbabwean J. Nozipo Maraire).

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                                                                                              • Lindfors, Bernth. Long Drums and Canons: Teaching and Researching African Literatures. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 1995.

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                                                                                                Exploring the teaching of African literature, Lindfors includes a discussion on the issues students are likely to face on the job market. The book discusses the canonization of African literature, the teaching of African literature in an African university, and the interventions by African authors to change the curriculum. Chapters read like self-standing articles.

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                                                                                                • Lindfors, Bernth, ed. Approaches to Teaching Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1991.

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                                                                                                  Part of MLA’s “Approaches to Teaching Masterpieces of World Literature” series, this is an edited volume of essays by respected Achebe scholars on teaching one of the most popular African classics. The opening section offers a survey of biographical sources and interviews, background studies, critical commentaries, and films based on the novel. The second part presents sixteen essays describing how to teach the novel effectively.

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                                                                                                  Oral Literature

                                                                                                  Also called orature to avoid the contradiction in the term “oral literature,” this form of literature involves art passed down from one generation to the other through the spoken word. Ideally, it is supposed to be performed by a skilled artist to a participating audience on a live occasion. The genres and thematic emphases vary from one place to the other, and therefore the art has been central to the study of the cultural specificity of different African communities. Much of African oral literature has not been recorded yet. However, there is already a rich trove of books containing transcriptions of oral literature from discrete ethnic communities. There are also oral epics, especially from West Africa, South Africa, and central Africa detailing in elevated language the military exploits of historical figures. Because of the richness of African orature, there are books that discuss either a genre across various societies or the various genres of oral literature from a specific ethnic group, region, or country. It is European anthropologists, colonial administrators, and missionaries who made early recordings of oral literature, and they tended to treat the literature as oddities from “primitive” societies. Later scholars have emphasized the life-enhancing aspects of the performances and the artistic skills that go into the composition and delivery of an artistic work, defending the genres from the denigration and cursory dismissal by colonial-era collectors and analysts.

                                                                                                  Primary Texts

                                                                                                  Conducted by colonial-era anthropologists, early collections of oral literature are usually condescending, patronizing, or outright racist in their view of African cultures. For example, Rattray declares in its title that the Ashanti proverbs under study in the volume are from “savage” people and reflect “primitive” ethics. However, the volume recognizes the artistic power of African art, as does Rattray 1913, a two-volume collection of Hausa folklore. Egudu and Nwoga 1973 collects songs from the Igbo community, while Kipury 1983 is a collection of Maasai oral literature that includes detailed discussions of the materials. There are numerous epics that scholars have used to study African societies. Kunene 1979 is a long narrative poem about the rise to power of Zulu’s Shaka, while Niane 1965 is about Sundiata, the founder of the Mali Empire. While recordings of earlier epics were usually only in European-language translations, later ones have included the original language in which the epic was performed. Clark 1977 is a performance from the Ijo of Nigeria that includes the African-language original; so does Camara and Camara 2010, a transcription of the Mandinka Kelefaa Saane epic. Some of the epics exist in video form.

                                                                                                  • Camara, Sirifo, and Sana Camara. The Epic of Kelefaa Saane. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                    This is the first English translation of the story of Kelefaa Saane, a celebrated epic hero form the Mandinka kingdom. It presents Sirifo Camara’s beautiful and engaging performance of the epic as recorded in Dakar in 1987. The introduction explains the epic within the context of its continued popularity, discussing the performer, the text, and the structure of the performance. Transcribed in Mandinka and translated into English.

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                                                                                                    • Clark, J. P. The Ozidi Saga. Ibandan, Nigeria: Oxford University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                      A bilingual (Ijo and English) text, this is one of the most read books of oral literature from Nigeria. It is about the exploits of Ozidi, an epic hero from the Ijo community of the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. Narrated in seven nights tracing Ozidi’s development. Available in video form as well. Contains an introductory essay that discusses the background and performance of the saga in a traditional setting.

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                                                                                                      • Egudu, Romanus N., and Donatus Ibe Nwoga. Igbo Traditional Verse. London: Heinemann, 1973.

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                                                                                                        A collection of praise poems, dance poems, lamentation poems, and other poetic forms from the Igbo culture, the book discusses in the introduction the problems scholars would encounter when putting together such a volume. The introduction is rich in details about Igbo culture and religion, which govern the poetic works presented.

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                                                                                                        • Kipury, Naomi. Oral Literature of the Maasai. Nairobi, Kenya: Heinemann, 1983.

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                                                                                                          The book documents in Maa original and English translation narratives, riddles, proverbs, and songs from the Maasai community. It begins with a detailed introduction that discusses the culture and the environment reflected in the oral literature. The author discusses the dominant features of the literature and offers outlines of the characteristics of each genre.

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                                                                                                          • Kunene, Mazisi. Emperor Shaka the Great. London: Heinemann, 1979.

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                                                                                                            This is an epic about Shaka, the founder of the Zulu kingdom in South Africa. It details his mysterious birth, exile, and invention of a handy spear. Includes descriptions of his ruthlessness. The book includes an introduction that contextualizes the epic within South African history and culture. Offers an outline of literature on Shaka and helpful notes on translation.

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                                                                                                            • Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Translated by G. D. Pickett. London: Longmans, 1965.

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                                                                                                              One of the most widely known and retold stories, it tells the spectacular story of the man who is said to have founded the Mali empire around the 13th century. Read in schools across Africa. Exists in video and audio recordings. First published in French as Soundjata ou l’Epopée du Manding. (Paris: Présence africaine, 1960).

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                                                                                                              • Rattray, Robert Sutherland, ed. and trans. Hausa Folk-lore, Customs, Proverbs, etc. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913.

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                                                                                                                An early collection of African oral literature, this is a two-volume collection of folklore from the Hausa people of Nigeria. Includes myths of origin and other legends from the Hausa. Capaciously defines oral literature to include discussions of such customs as clitoridectomy, burial ceremonies, and Islamic prayers. Uses Arabic characters in the original, roman transcriptions, and English translation.

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                                                                                                                • Rattray, Robert Sutherland, ed. and trans. Ashanti Proverbs: The Primitive Ethics of a Savage People. Oxford: Clarendon, 1916.

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                                                                                                                  While the book’s title seems dismissive of the art, the author recognizes the depth of philosophical reflection in the Ashanti proverbs. The proverbs are arranged according to motifs, starting with sayings that encapsulate religious beliefs. Author includes translations and fieldwork notes. Proverbs give hints into the Ashanti views on land, power, and wealth.

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                                                                                                                  Secondary Texts

                                                                                                                  Focusing on apartheid in South Africa, Scheub 1996 offers an excellent model for recording politically engaged oral literature from different ethnic groups in the region. Derive 2012 draws examples from the Mandingo cultures of central and western regions of Africa to discuss African orature. There are also books discussing oral literature in general. An excellent example is Finnegan 1970, an influential text that discusses various genres of African oral literature and offers a rich background to the subject. Okpewho 1992 examines various genres of African oral literature and different theories that can be used to study the art. Furniss and Gunner 1995 discusses power relations as displayed in oral literature, including critiques of its abuse by African political elites. There also have been works on the intersection of orality and literacy in Africa. These include George 2009, which outlines the dynamic relationship between modern African writing and oral literature. Jones, et al. 1991 is a collection of articles unified by their focus on their discussion of oral literature in such works Flora Nwapa’s novels of African oral epics. Several works have considered the place of folklore in children’s literature. An example of these is Mushengyezi 2013, which not only discusses genres in children’s oral literature, but includes a transcription of the items.

                                                                                                                  • Derive, Jean. L’Art du verbe dans l’oralité africaine. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012.

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                                                                                                                    A French-language general examination of the concept of oral literature and its implications for African cultural studies, the book draws examples from the Mandingo cultures of the central and western regions of Africa. The author discusses the nature and functions of oral literature, its structures, and the use of such techniques as repetition. It includes the intersection of Islam and oral performance in some of the societies discussed.

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                                                                                                                    • Finnegan, Ruth H. Oral Literature in Africa. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970.

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                                                                                                                      A discussion of various genres of oral literature, including riddles, praise songs, elegies, proverbs­ and religious poetry, lyrics, topical and political songs, and children’s songs and rhymes. Covers over 150 ethnic groups across sub-Saharan Africa. Controversial for claiming that there are no epics in Africa and precolonial societies did not have a genre that can strictly speaking be considered drama.

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                                                                                                                      • Furniss, Graham, and Liz Gunner, eds. Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511521164Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        A collection of seventeen essays discussing the notion of “power” and “marginality” as manifested in oral literature from different parts of Africa. Essays cover works from Hausa, Nzema, Shona, Xhosa, Zulu, and Ewe, among other groups. Some of the essays suggests that African nationalists have tended to abuse oral literature by using it as a propaganda tool.

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                                                                                                                        • George, Olakunle. “The Oral-Literate Interface.” In The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel. Edited by F. Abiola Irele, 15–29. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521855600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Discusses such works as Achebe’s and Fagunwa’s writing in terms of their use of oral literary sources. Argues that the African novel involves a transaction between modern writing and African traditional storytelling practices.

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                                                                                                                          • Jones, Eldred Durosimi, et al., eds. Orature in African Literature Today. London: James Currey, 1991.

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                                                                                                                            This is a collection of essays examining epics (e.g., Mazisi Kenene’s Emperor Shaka, the Great) as well as the use of oral literature in written texts by Armah, p’Bitek, Osofisan, Osundare, and Flora Nwapa. Includes a survey of the deployment of oral literature in African drama in French.

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                                                                                                                            • Mushengyezi, Aaron. 2013. Oral Literature for Children: Rethinking Orality, Literacy, Performance, and Documentation Practices. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

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                                                                                                                              The volume documents folktales, riddles, songs, and other genres of Ugandan oral literature for children in Runyankore, Runyarwanda, and Luganda languages. It discusses fieldwork techniques, transcription and analysis of the literature. Includes an appendix of some of the texts collected in the fieldwork both in the original language and in translation.

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                                                                                                                              • Okpewho, Isidore. African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character, and Continuity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                A detailed discussion of techniques, genres, forms, and performances of oral literature, the book draws examples from different parts of the continent. Includes a discussion of theories of oral literature and a chapter on how to conduct fieldwork.

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                                                                                                                                • Scheub, Harold. The Tongue Is Fire: South African Storytellers and Apartheid. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                  A rich collection of South African stories, poems, and oral histories. Contains an introductory chapter covering major events and personalities in South African history. Includes works by young oral artists. Offers rich explanatory prefaces to the materials collected from the field. Live performances illustrated with pictures.

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                                                                                                                                  Literature in African Languages

                                                                                                                                  In some parts of Africa (e.g., Ethiopia), African writing predates contact with Europeans. But writing in African languages flourished with the coming of the printing press in the late 19th century. Missionaries set up presses to print their literature. In the early 20th century, the missionaries encouraged the production of literatures that reflected moral themes or expressed the beliefs of the community. Africans used the indigenous writing to subvert colonialism and critique neocolonial regimes. Major writers who have used African languages include Kenya Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kikuyu), Kagame (Kinyarwanda), Fagunwa (Yoruba), and Vilakazi (Zulu). Although literatures in indigenous African languages have not been as widely studied as their counterparts in European languages, there have been, since the 1980s, useful outlines covering the literatures.

                                                                                                                                  Primary Texts

                                                                                                                                  Since the early 20th century, there has been a vibrant growth of writing in African languages. For instance, Fagunwa 1982 was originally published in 1938 in Yoruba. It is a fairy tale about a man who saunters into a forest in which demons dwell. Later literature was overtly or indirectly critical of missionary work, colonialism, and neocolonialism. Mutswairo 1956 is also a tale based on Shona folklore that was banned because of its subtle critique of colonialism. Ngũgĩ and Ngũgĩ 1982 is a play originally written in Kikuyu and it is a scathing criticism of neocolonialism in Kenya. Ngũgĩ 1982 was written in prison in Kikuyu; it is a satire on abuse of power in Kenya. Alluding to Shakespeare and Conrad, Salih 1969 is a story originally written in Arabic about colonialism and the violence it breeds. Joubert 1989 is a critique of apartheid using Afrikaans. Opland 2007 offers in Xhosa and English translation the work of a skilled woman poet who burst to the scene with poetry sent to newspapers in the 1920s.

                                                                                                                                  • Fagunwa, D. O. The Forest of a Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga. Translated by Wole Soyinka. New York: Random House, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                    This is a picaresque novel in which we follow the adventures of Adara-Oogun, the son of a witch and a brave hunter as he travels into a forest full of supernatural creatures. Praised as the first full-length Yoruba novel, it was originally published as Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale (Lagos, Nigeria: Church Missionary Society, 1938)

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                                                                                                                                    • Joubert, Elsa. Poppie. Johannesburg: Southern Book, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                      Based on a real black woman’s experiences in apartheid South Africa, this Afrikaans-language novel depicts poverty, domestic violence, and the negative effects of apartheid laws. First published as Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1978).

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                                                                                                                                      • Mutswairo, Solomon Mangwiro. Feso. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1956.

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                                                                                                                                        A story based on Shona folklore, it is a reworking of legend about resistance. Rhodesian censors banned it because of its subversive subtexts.

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                                                                                                                                        • Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo. Devil on the Cross. London: Heinemann, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                          Written in prison on toilet paper, this is a satire on abuse of power in post-independence Kenya. It revolves around Wariinga’s ideological development from a naïve girl whom rich men easily exploit to an intellectually mature radical engineer who kills her capitalist exploiters. Told by a “gicaandi” traditional oral narrator, it uses song and dance, proverbs, comic relief, and other features of oral literature. Originally published as Caitaani Mũtharaba-inĩ (London: Heinemann, 1980).

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                                                                                                                                          • Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, and Ngũgĩ wa Mĩriĩ. Will Marry When I Want. London: Heinemann 1982.

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                                                                                                                                            A Kikuyu-language play about the growing gap between the rich and the power and the betrayal of the ideals for which Kenyans fought to gain political independence from Britain. Originally performed in 1977 as Ngaahika Ndeenda: Ithaako rĩa Ngerekano (Nairobi, Kenya: Heinemann Educational, 1980).

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                                                                                                                                            • Opland, Jeff. The Nation’s Bounty: The Xhosa Poetry of Nontsizi Mgqwetho. Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                              This is a collection of Xhosa poetry (with facing translation in English) by one of the most skilled Xhosa poets, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, who lived in Johannesburg but drew inspiration from her rural roots in the Cape Colony. The introduction gives a background to Xhosa culture, which would not have allowed Nontsizi to thrive as an imbongi, a male role. The poet addresses precolonial themes as well as social problems in the urban setting.

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                                                                                                                                              • Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. Translated by Denys Johnson-Davies. London: Heinemann, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                A novel in Arabic that tells the story of Mustafa Saʾeed, a Sudanese who has been away in Europe for further studies and murders his white lovers while there. Alludes to Shakespeare’s Othello and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. First published as Mawsim al-Hiǧra ilā ash-Shamāl (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-ʾAwdah, 1966).

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                                                                                                                                                Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                Since the mid-1980s, there has been a remarkable amount of commentary on writing in African languages. Ngũgĩ 1986 is a polemical work that argues for the need to write in indigenous language if African literature is to be meaningful to African societies. An edited volume, Andrzejewski, et al. 1985, includes essays on literature in African languages (e.g., Kiswahili and Mande). Johnson 1996 examines poetry in Somali language, while Gérard 1990 and Gérard 1993 include useful sections on writing in various indigenous languages. Written by one of the best scholars of African-language literatures, Ricard 2004 discusses writers including Alexis Kagame (Kinyarwanda), Thomas Mofolo (Sotho), and Okot p’Bitek (Acoli). Negash 2010 serves as a model for studying the indigenous literary history of an African society because of its close attention to textual and socioeconomic and political details, while Mhlambi 2012 combines literary history with close reading of printed and visual works in Zulu.

                                                                                                                                                • Andrzejewski, Bogumil W., Stanisław Piłaszewicz, and Witold Tyloch, eds. Literatures in African Languages: Theoretical Issues and Sample Surveys. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                  A collection of essays discussing indigenous-language literatures, the book contains articles on oral and written texts from a wide variety of communities. These include the Mande, Fulani, Swahili, Amharic, Somali, and Akan. Most chapters offer an overview of the area under study and brief biographies of the artists from various regions discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Gérard, Albert. Contexts of African Literature. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    Includes a discussion of literatures in local languages (e.g., Kiswahili), and the development of vernacular writing. Considers the growth of African literature, covering fifteen centuries of African literature. Discusses changes in literary emphases in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Gérard, Albert, ed. Comparative Literature and African Literatures. Pretoria, South Africa: Via Afrika, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                      An edited volume that includes not only general surveys on African writing but discussions of literatures in Xhosa, Zulu, Setswana. It outlines the growth of “vernacular” literatures in the continent. It comprises a series of lectures read at the University of South Africa in July 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Johnson, John William. Heelloy: Modern Poetry and Songs of the Somali. London: HAAN, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                        A detailed discussion that includes excerpts in the original and translation, the book offers a historical background to the various sub-genres of the poetry. Discusses themes and structural characteristics of the poetry. First published in 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Mhlambi, Innocentia Jabulisile. African-Language Literatures: New Perspectives on IsiZulu Fiction and Popular Black Television Series. Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                          A good model for scholarly discussions of different indigenous-language literatures, the book reviews earlier theoretical works on African indigenous popular culture. It includes discussions of post-apartheid urban art in African languages. While appreciating the use of the languages, the author exposes the use of some texts to propagate neoliberal ideologies.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Negash, Ghirmai. A History of Tigrinya Literature in Eritrea: The Oral and the Written, 1890–1991. Trenton, NJ; and Asmara, Eritrea: Africa World, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                            A first attempt at a detailed study of the history of Tigrinya literature, this book offers an excellent and accessible model for study of African-language literatures as a way of providing alternatives to mainstream literary theories. Includes discussions on the production and reception of literary works.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                              An impassioned plea for African writers to use African languages, the book offers a polemical discussion of fiction, poetry, and theater in African languages. The author draws from his experiences as a writer both in English and his mother tongue, Kikuyu. The author criticizes fellow African theorists and writers (e.g., Achebe) who have argued in favor of the use of the more widely used colonial languages.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Ricard, Alain. 2004. The Languages and Literatures of Africa. Translated by Naomi Morgan. Oxford: James Currey.

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                                                                                                                                                                This is a well-written survey of African writing practices that discusses works published in different African languages. Includes discussions of Thomas Mofolo (Sotho), Okot p’Bitek (Acoli), Amadou Hampâté Bâ (Fula), Alexis Kagame (Kinyarwanda), and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Gikuyu). Examines bilingual writers and their use of translation, offering the examples of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, Jomo Kenyatta, and Okot p’Bitek. Considers music and theater.

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                                                                                                                                                                Anglophone Writing

                                                                                                                                                                Writing in English in Africa is widespread, as writers from various parts of the continent, including countries that were not colonized by the British, use the language as a medium of creative writing. However, most Anglophone writing is concentrated in the former British colonies (e.g., South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Kenya). The writing covers a wide range of themes, the most prominent of which is colonialism and struggles for self-determination. Since the 1960s, literatures from newly independent nations have tended to express disillusionment with the emerging political order. Gender issues have gained prominence in texts published since the mid-1980s. Anglophone African writers use a form of English that expresses the influence of the individual local languages from which the stories emerge. Among the most important Anglophone African writers are Wole Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize in 1986, and his compatriot Chinua Achebe. Others are Nobelists Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee, and Doris Lessing.

                                                                                                                                                                Southern Africa and Central Africa

                                                                                                                                                                South African literature in English is arguably the most developed and most discussed category in African literature. The bulk of this literature is about the horrors of apartheid and racial segregation. The country is rich in prison literature as a result of the detentions of authors, such as under Banda’s repressive regime in Malawi. Land tenure problems are at the heart of most literature from central Africa, an issue that the region shares with South Africa. The 1990s saw the rise of literature of disappointment with the post-apartheid condition. The most well-known South African writers include J. M. Coetzee, whose novel Disgrace (1998) is widely studied in classes of African literature. For their part, although the other countries in the region are not as developed as South Africa, the central African nations of Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have produced remarkable literature treating similar themes as texts from South Africa. Literature from central Africa is not as much studied as literature from South Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                There are numerous texts capturing the theme of alienation, exploitation, and repression under colonialism and apartheid. For example, first published in 1946, Abrahams 2006 portrays racism and exploitation in the mining industry. Also published around the same time, Paton 2008 (originally 1948) is a famous novel that portrays the possibility of forgiveness and harmonious coexistence between whites and blacks. First published in Nigeria in 1962, La Guma 1968 examines the problems faced by mixed-race urban dwellers in South Africa. Nadine Gordimer and J. M. Coetzee also wrote against political injustices in South Africa, and they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991 and 2003, respectively. Gordimer 1979 is the story of white Afrikaners who join the struggle against apartheid. Coetzee 1999 is a highly allusive novel that depicts the violence in post-apartheid South Africa. Black writing (e.g., work by Zakes Mda, Phaswane Mpe, and K. Sello Duiker) has also variously explored disillusionment with the post-apartheid condition and the unchecked violence in urban centers. Central African writers include Charles Mungoshi and Doris Lessing from Zimbabwe, David Rubandiri and Jack Mapanje from Malawi, and Dominic Mulaisho from Zambia. Others are Stanlake Samsange (Zimbabwe) and Solomon Mutswairo (Zimbabwe). In Zimbabwe, Mungoshi 1975 is arguably the most well-known text, which uses modernistic techniques to signify the disintegration of Shona culture under the pressures of colonialism. Dangarembga 1988 is the first novel in English by a Zimbabwean woman. It is a story of growing up that addresses the themes of colonial education and gender liberation. Vera 1998 also treats gender issues, as it focuses on the role of women in the liberation war.

                                                                                                                                                                • Abrahams, Peter. Mine Boy. Oxford: Heinemann, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A straightforward story about rural Africans’ experiences in the urban centers, the novel follows Xuma, who moves from the rural areas to the city in search of a job. Hailed as the first modern novel by a South African, the book was originally published in 1946.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Coetzee, M. J. Disgrace. Harmondsworth, UK; and Middlesex, UK: Penguin, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Telling the story of an English professor, David Lurie, the novel makes intricate literary allusions to capture the violence in both urban and rural South Africa after the end of apartheid. It is usually studied in terms of its representation of rape and professional ethics.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions. London: Women’s Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This is an award-winning semi-autobiographical novel about growing up as a woman in colonial Zimbabwe. Revolving around Tambu’s story, it presents such themes as women’s education and colonial alienation.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Gordimer, Nadine. Burgers Daughter. London: Jonathan Cape. 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A highly accomplished historical novel depicting white Afrikaners’ activism against apartheid, it revolves around a daughter who reluctantly recognizes the need to join her father’s struggle against a system that privileges white people. It is usually studied in analyses of apartheid and censorship.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • La Guma, Alex. A Walk in the Night. London: Heinemann, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A naturalistic novella about the experiences of the Colored (mixed-race) community in apartheid South Africa, it depicts alienation, poverty, and racism in apartheid South Africa. This volume includes other stories by La Guma that suggest the need for armed struggle against apartheid. It borrows its title from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. First published in 1962 (Ibadan, Nigeria: Mbari).

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Mungoshi, Charles. Waiting for the Rain. London: Heinemann Educational, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Examining the theme of colonial education and its attendant alienation, this novel uses experimental techniques to depict the cultural disintegration of the Shona community. It has as its main character Lucifer, a Shona youth, whose life disintegrates after receiving colonial education.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                              One of the most famous novels from South Africa, it is about the possible peaceful coexistence between black and white families. Originally published in 1948, it has been dismissed as ideologically naïve for presenting an idealistic South Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Vera, Yvonne. Nehanda. Harare, Zimbabwe: Baobab, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Vera’s debut novel, it uses images of the legendary Mbuya Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana, (b. c. 1840–d. 1898), a Shona female spiritual leader who inspired a revolt against the British colonization of her country in 1896, to recover the role of women in liberation struggles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                South African literature is one of the most widely studied in Africa. Authored by critics and creative writers, Heywood 1976 is a provocative book about what South African intellectuals consider to be the nature and function of South African writing. Chapman 2003 is a comprehensive work of the landmark development in South African literature from the pioneer writing in the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century. Attwell and Attridge 2012 is an important reference book that contains essays on the history of South African literature, including chapters on oral literature, women’s writing, post-apartheid art, and the development of literature in Afrikaans. Cornwell, et al. 2010 is also an important reference book that includes biographies of authors and short essays on various topics and individual major texts and literary movements. Barnard 2007 is arguably the best model for reading contemporary South African fiction, as it conducts close readings while considering the ideological and spatial placement of the authors. While South African studies predominate, there are a number of useful works on central African literature. For example, Roscoe 2008 is the most comprehensive as a reference book, including discussions of single authors and important topics. Veit-Wild and Chennells 2004 is a brief survey of the main themes, techniques, and literary figures from central Africa. For its part, Roscoe and Msiska 1992 examines poetry from Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Attwell, David, and Derek Attridge, eds. The Cambridge History of South African Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521199285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is an invaluable collection of essays by over forty scholars outlining developments in South African literature. It covers a wide variety of topics (e.g., oral literature, war literature, women’s writing, and literary and cultural criticism from South Africa). The main focus is on materials in South Africa’s eleven official languages, but works in the country’s minor languages are considered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Barnard, Rita. Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    The book eruditely examines the ways in which apartheid and post-apartheid writing in South Africa views the past and the impact of spatial segregation on the lives and writings from the country. The author discusses such authors as J. M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Miriam Tlali, and Zakes Mda.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Chapman, Michael. Southern African Literatures. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of Natal Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Examining the major texts and literary developments in South Africa, the author is attentive to differences of language, race, and class and interchanges between different categories. He considers oral literary traditions and the works of Gordimer, Coetzee, Dangor, Wicomb, and Vladislavic. The book includes rich general bibliographies and biographies of individual authors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cornwell, Gareth, Dirk Klopper, and Craig MacKenzie. The Columbia Guide to South African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A comprehensive reference book on authors, major texts, and central debates in South African literature and culture, the book’s introduction identifies for readers the most noteworthy South African writing in English. It discusses this work in the context of politics, history, and writing in other languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Heywood, Christopher. Aspects of South African Literature. Oxford: Heinemann, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          A discussion of white and black writing in South Africa by writers and academicians, this book contains essays by such writers as T. T. Moyana, Nadine Gordimer, and Oswold Mtshali, who talk about the challenges, meaning, and politics of writing. Critics also explore the works of Roy Campbell, C. J. Driver, Bessie Head, and Athol Fugard, among others.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Roscoe, Adrian, ed. The Columbia Guide to Central African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            A comprehensive coverage of Anglophone central African literature in English, the book discusses various genres in which the art appears and provides biographical details about established as well as emerging authors from the region. Topics include drama, historiography, and white writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Roscoe, Adrian A., and Mpalive-Hangson Msiska. The Quiet Chameleon: Modern Poetry from Central Africa. London: H. Zell, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              The book considers the social and political history of Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia in its discussion of major poets from the region (e.g., Steve Chimombo, Frank Chipasula, Jack Mapanje, Felix Mnthali, Edison Mpina, and Musaemura Zimunya). Discusses such topics as irony and exile as presented in the central African poetry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Veit-Wild, Flora, and Anthony Chennells. “Anglophone Literature of Central Africa.” In The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Vol. 2. Edited by F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, 445–471. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                This is a quick and easy-to-read survey of writings from Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe from the 1810s to the 1990s. It examines various themes in the writings, and considers recent works, including writing by women, who are often excluded in similar outlines.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                West Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                Apart from South African literature, West African literature, especially Nigerian art, has received the most attention in the study of Africa. Going back to the anti-slavery narratives by Olaudah Equiano (1745–1797) and Quobna Ottobah Cugoano (1757–1791), the literature has been engaged in political and social issues that make it attractive for the study of African politics and social organizations. The study of the continent through Anglophone West African literature is usually in the form of reading of works by foundational writers, especially Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. However, there has also been attention to novels by women. Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta have been studied with a noticeable frequency. Foundational West African literature in English (e.g., works by Amos Tutuola and Chinua Achebe) tends to foreground traditional myths and to celebrate African traditions in the wake of colonialism. Later writing captures the disillusionment with post-independence Africa, portraying corruption, voting irregularities, and violence. A common characteristic of the literature is its recourse to oral traditions in its techniques and themes. Recent works, such as Laura Murphy’s Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012), have revisited the theme of slavery as presented in works by Amos Tutuola, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Ayi Kwei Armah.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                There are numerous texts from West Africa which scholars use to study Africa. Widely used in African schools and across the world, Achebe 1958 is considered the benchmark of African writing; it is about Okonkwo and the customs of his people that Christianity and colonialism started threatening at the end of the 19th century. Later West African works criticize the post-independence nation, including Achebe’s A Man of the People. Ayi Kwei Armah is best known for The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, a novel about corruption in independent Ghana, but Armah 1979 is a more optimistic text in its mythological representation of African history; it is one of the texts that treat the theme of slavery and compare slave trade with colonialism. Laing 1992 and Okri 1992 are among the novels from the 1990s that have popularized what has come to be viewed as West African “magical realism.” Originally published in 1966, Nwapa 2007 is the first major work in English by a black African woman; it is about the struggles of financially successful and beautiful woman who is nevertheless not appreciated by her society because she is childless. Emecheta 1979 spins off where Nwapa left, by borrowing its title from the last paragraph of Nwapa’s novel, portraying the problems that a woman with children of her own also faces. There are numerous 21st-century writers from both West Africa. Abani 2004 is an experimental work that portrays the problems and possibilities in African urban slums. Women from both parts of the continent have written remarkable fiction that is used in literary, anthropology, and gender studies classes. Adichie 2003 is a beautifully written story about a girl growing up in a tumultuous Nigeria in the 1970s. Other 21-century writers from the region include Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone), Taiye Selasi (Ghana/Nigeria/United Kingdom), Helon Habila (Nigeria), Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria), and Tuju Cole (Nigeria/United States).

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Abani, Christopher. GraceLand. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  An experimental award-winning novel by one of the best contemporary African writers, the story narrates the experiences of a Nigerian boy who becomes an Elvis impersonator in a slum. Contains scenes of abject poverty, violence, and torture. Chapters begin with recipes of Nigerian dishes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann, 1958.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Arguably the most important and most widely discussed African novel, this story is about the conflict between African traditions and European culture and administrative approaches. It tells the story of Okonkwo during the arrival of Europeans in his Igbo community. Though read as a glorification of precolonial Africa, it contains scathing criticism of precolonial practices (e.g., killing of twins). It uses proverbs and other folkloric devices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Purple Hibiscus. New York: Anchor, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      The novel is a skillfully written first-person narrative by a fifteen-year-old girl, Kambili, presenting her experiences growing up at a time that her country, Nigeria, is undergoing political and economic strife. The novel examines the themes of the conflict between rural values and urban modernity, the collapse of Nigerian institutions, media censorship, alienation of the educated elites, and religious zealotry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Armah, Ayi Kwei. Two Thousand Seasons: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is a historical novel depicting a young group of visionaries who rebel against the external and internal forces destroying Africa. It depicts Islam as complicit in the dehumanization of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade. Describes the destruction of African religions when Arab Muslims and European Christians came to sub-Saharan Africa. More hopeful than Armah’s novels of the 1960s. First published in 1973 (Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishing House).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Emecheta, Buchi. The Joys of Motherhood. New York: G. Braziller, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of the best-known novels by an African woman, it tells the story of an Igbo woman, Nnu Ego, who after struggling with barrenness for many years, is abandoned by her children. Focuses the story through the woman, who probably has already committed suicide. Borrows its title from Nwapa’s Efuru. Usually read in terms of its deconstruction of Achebe and Nwapa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Laing, B. Kojo. Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars. Oxford: Heinemann, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Set in 2020, this is a futuristic novel about a war for the future of Africa. The war pits Major Gentl against a ruthless mercenary trying to take control of the Achimota City. It is studied as an experimental post-realist novel that uses magical realist devices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nwapa, Flora. Efuru. Oxford: Heinemann, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Considered the first novel to be written by a black African woman, this is the story of a beautiful and financially successful woman, Efuru, who cannot be fully respected in her culture because she cannot conceive. In spite of her childlessness, she gains respectability because of her charity work and business acumen. Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood borrows its title from the ending of this book. Originally published in 1966.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Okri, Ben. The Famished Road. London: Jonathan Cape, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                A highly accomplished award-winning novel told from the perspective of a boy who is able to communicate with the spirits of dead people. Thematizes poverty, violence, and poor leadership. Part of a trilogy—together with Okri’s Infinite Riches (1998) and Songs of Enchantment (1993). Ushered in a mode of writing known as West “magical realism,” in which artists dream-like narrative techniques while referring to the gritty realities in theor societies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anglophone literatures from West Africa have received a sizeable amount of scholarship. Obiechina 1975 is an early survey of West African literature that has served as a model for many scholars of African literature because of its attention to textual details as well as socioeconomic and political contexts signaled in individual texts. Booker 1998 is a useful survey of the major texts and themes covering work from different parts of the continent, including Nigeria and Ghana. Some books, such as Griffiths 2000 (cited under Eastern Africa: Scholarship), conduct a comparative analysis of West and East African literatures, noting the differences and similarities among writers from the two regions. Newell 2006 is a more detailed and very well-written survey of West African literature, bringing Francophone and Anglophone traditions together into conversation with one another. Cooper 1998 is an innovative study of experimental West African fiction written after the 1980s (e.g., works by Ben Okri and Biyi Bandele-Thomas). For its part, Griswold 2000 uses social science methods of analysis and data collection to offer insights into writing, circulation, and consumption of texts in Nigeria. Deandrea 2002 also focuses on West African literature, discussing authors like Kofi Anyindoho and Efua Sutherland, who defy genre boundaries. Lindfors 2010 tracks the early careers of major writers to account for the role their high school and college experiences had on their writing careers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Booker, M. Keith. The African Novel in English. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The book discusses the rise to prominence of African literature. Works discussed in detail include Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Ama Ata Aidoo’s Our Sister Killjoy, and Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Gives a useful overview of Anglophone African novels. Discusses contexts of each novel analyzed. Author does not assume readers to be familiar with African literature or the texts discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Cooper, Brenda. Magical Realism in West African Fiction: Seeing with a Third Eye. New York: Routledge, 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4324/9780203451397Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a thorough examination of the post-realist tradition in Anglophone West Africa. Cooper discusses the work of Ben Okri, Kojo Laing, and Biyi Bandele-Thomas, among others. She contends that, contrary to popular belief, “magical realism” is not derivative from Western postmodernism or Latin American writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Deandrea, Pietro. Fertile Crossings: Metamorphoses of Genre in Anglophone West African Literature. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In this monograph on West African writers who defy genre categories by intermixing poetry, drama, and fiction, the author discusses such authors and performers as Laing, Okri, Cheney-Coker, Okai, Anyidoho, Acquah, Efua Sutherland, and Femi Osofisan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Griswold, Wendy. Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An excellent model for using social science methods in analyzing the production, circulation, and reading of African literature, this book examines about 500 novels from a sociological perspective to gain insights into the writing and reading culture in Nigeria. Research involves surveys and interviews with writers, publishers, booksellers, and readers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lindfors, Bernth. Early West African Writers: Amos Tutuola, Cyprian Ekwensi and Ayi Kwei Armah. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is an easy presentation of the developments in the careers of the most prominent West African writers, including their undergraduate and high-school writing. It offers insights into the role of the university and high-school magazines in the evolution of the writers. Interesting is an essay on Tutuola’s search for an author.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Newell, Stephanie. West African Literatures: Ways of Reading. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is an innovatively written study of literature that interweaves readings of fiction, drama, and poetry. The scholar discusses the intersection of works in European languages and in African languages, including oral literature. The book includes analysis of popular writing and works by a rich diversity of writers (e.g., Niyi Osundare, Amos Tutuola, Kofi Anyindoho, Syl Cheney-Coker, and Kojo Laing). The chapters on feminist and Marxist influences on the literature are illuminating.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Obiechina, Emmanuel. Culture, Tradition and Society in the West African Novel. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The book uses examples mainly from Nigeria to outline the development of the West African novel. It examines the contribution of the mass media and the rise of literacy to the development of the novel. It includes a study of the role that music and oral literature plays in modern West African writing. Studies foreign novelists’ portrayal of West Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eastern Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Like other parts of the continent, East Africa offers a broad range of texts through which the region has been studied. All genres of writing are represented, with the novel taking the largest share. The first novel by an African from the region is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not, Child (1964), a novel about growing up in the turbulent 1950s. Grace Ogot’s The Promised Land (1966) is the first novel by a black woman from the region. It tells the story of Ochola, who migrates to neighboring Tanzania and contracts a strange disease. Its feminism is very subtle, but later works by women writers (e.g., the Kenyan novelist Margaret Ogola and the Ugandan poet Susan Kiguli) have been more open in their critique of patriarchy even if the authors do not necessarily identify themselves with the feminist movement. The early works (1960s–1970s) were about the clash between traditions and modernity, as exemplified by Ngũgĩ’s novel The River Between (1965), Francis Imbuga’s play The Married Bachelor (1971), and Henry ole Kulet’s Is It Possible? (1971). The latter is about the dilemma facing an educated Maasai man regarding whether it is possible to be authentically Maasai and a modern educated man at the same time. Most of the works from this period suggested the need for careful balancing of traditions and modernity. The novels of this period also depicted the fight for independence, celebrating nationalism. From the 1960s, the literature adopted a disappointed tone, as the national leadership reneged on the promises of independence. In the 1980s, the writing became more and more self-reflexive, with the authors playfully highlighting the processes in which the stories were constructed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Although the literature developed later than its South African and West African counterparts, here are numerous works from East Africa that have been used to study the societies in that region. First published in 1967, Ngũgĩ 1986 is a complex novel about the fight for Kenyan independence and the disappointment that follows independence. Published around the same time, Ogot 1988 is a collection of twelve short stories about a variety of themes, including racism, colonialism, and the clash between modernity and African values. While Ogot’s feminism remains subtle in her stories, Njau 1975 is one of the earliest novels from the region to use magical realist techniques and to explore the theme of lesbian desire. Farah 1986 is widely discussed in studies of nationalism, as it presents the dilemmas of the Somali ethnic nation, which occupies different nation-states in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The theme of migration is often studied through the work of Abdulrazak Gurnah and M. G. Vassanji. Gurnah 1994 is a story that echoes Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to explore the cultural contacts between various societies on the East African coastline and the interior. Considered the East African equivalent of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Vassanji 1989 is a widely discussed novel about Indian migration to East Africa and beyond. John Ruganda and Francis Imbuga are the most discussed and most accomplished playwrights from the region. For example, Ruganda 1972 is a play about a politician who falls out of favor with the government after a failed coup attempt. Although not as widely discussed as the novels, there are a number of poetry anthologies that are common in East African schools, including Cook and Rubadiri 1971, which is the most canonized book of poetry from the region.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cook, David, and David Rubadiri, eds. Poems from East Africa. London: Heinemann, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is one of the most popular collections of poetry in East Africa, as it brings together work mainly written in the 1960s from across the region. The anthology contains poems on love, death, corruption, migration, and exploitation by Jared Angira, Taban Lo Liyong, Rose Mbowa, Bahadur Tejani, Austin Bukenya, Okot p’Bitek, Marjorie O. Macgoye, Jonathan Kariara, and Laban Erapu, among others.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Farah, Nuruddin. Maps. New York: Pantheon, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a Somali novel about the identity of a Somali boy brought up by a woman from another nation. It revolves around his search of selfhood as he participates in the Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia. The boy’s gender and national identities are fluid. Rejecting the traditional presentation of African children as innocent victims, the novel depicts the violence that children are capable of.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gurnah, Abdulrazak. Paradise. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a delicately written novel set in the years between 1900 and 1914. Subtly referring to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the novel evokes the multiethnic and multicultural heritage of the Indian Ocean coast. Themes include intra-African slavery and African-on-African racism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. A Grain of Wheat. London: Heinemann, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is arguably Ngugi’s most stylistically complex novel. It depicts the fight for independence in Kenya and the disillusionment that followed the end of colonial rule. Modeled on Conrad’s Under Western Eyes, it was first published in 1967 and revised to remove negative connotations about African liberation fighters in the original.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Njau, Rebeka. Ripples in the Pool. Nairobi, Kenya: Transafrica, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One of the earliest African novels to treat the theme of lesbianism, this novel revolves around Selina, a city woman who returns to her drought-devastated village and falls in love with another woman. An important theme is disillusionment with the post-independence condition. It uses magical realist techniques.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ogot, Grace. Land without Thunder. Nairobi, Kenya: Heinemann, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of twelve short stories by a foundational East African woman writer, the book offers narratives about colonialism, gender, superstitions, and the beauty of African traditions. It infuses elements of oral literary storytelling. The stories are very subtle in their critique of patriarchal structure. Originally published in 1968 by the defunct East African Publishing House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ruganda, John. The Burdens. Nairobi, Kenya: Oxford University Press, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One of the most widely studied plays by Uganda’s foremost dramatist, the play is about a fallen politician, his family, and their struggle to survive in post-independence Uganda. Addresses the themes of politics and politicians, poverty, and family wrangles. Uses irony, humor, play-within-a-play technique, and reverie to examine Wamalwa’s tragedy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Vassanji, M. G. The Gunny Sack. Oxford: Heinemann, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A widely studied novel that explores the identity of Indians in East Africa, it is about four generations of immigrants starting with Dhanji Govindji, who left his native India for East Africa toward the close of the 19th century, and ends with the narrator, Govindji’s great grandson, telling the story while in North America in the final years of the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anglophone literatures from Eastern Africa have not received as much critical attention as their counterparts from southern Africa and West Africa, but there are several good studies of the literature. Griffiths 2000 conducts a comparative analysis of East and West African literature. The bulk of Killam 1984 is on East African literature, with essays discussing Ngũgĩ, Mangua, Meja Mwangi Maillu, p’Bitek, Farah, Blixen, and Ntiru, among others. The greatest strength of Smith 1989 lies in its consideration of both canonical texts and popular authors portraying the urban condition in East Africa. Gikandi 2004 is an excellent brief survey of the development of East African literature, while Gikandi and Mwangi 2007 includes authors’ biographies and short essays on important issues in East African literary studies. Coussy 2007 is one of the few French-language studies of the region’s literature, covering the works of Farah, Gurnah, and Ngũgĩ among other Anglophone African writers. For its part, Griffiths 2000 offers a comparison of East African and West African literatures. Kurtz 1998 is a most useful text, especially to beginners, because it discusses major texts from the region and includes an annotated bibliography of Kenyan urban novels. Ogude, et al. 2012 is an offering of nineteen essays on the emerging trends in East African writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Coussy, Denise. Littératures de l’Afrique Anglophone. Aix-en-Provence, France: Edisud, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A French-language outline of various genres of African writing English since the 1950s, the book includes a discussion of works by well-known artists like Ngũgĩ (Kenya) and Farah (Somalia), as well as experimental works by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Zanzibar) and Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan). It covers poetry, theater, and the novel and offers a bibliography of French-language critical work on Anglophone literatures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gikandi, Simon. “East African Literature in English.” In The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Vol. 2. Edited by F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, 425–444. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A useful outline of the major issues in East African writing, the essay surveys the authors and venues that have influenced literary production in the region. Considers Makerere University’s English syllabus, nationalism and writing, and writing in the age of globalization. Refers to work of Ngũgĩ, Farah, Rebeka Njau, and Grace Ogot.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gikandi, Simon, and Evan Mwangi. The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English since 1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A reference book that includes biographies of major East African writers, it ranges between established writers such as Ngũgĩ and p’Bitek to upcoming artists like Binyavanga Wainaina. Topics include language, gender, theater, and popular culture. The book includes a useful introduction by Gikandi outlining the stakes in East African writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Griffiths, Gareth. African Literatures in English: East and West. Harlow: Longman, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A useful book that compares West and East African literature, it includes minority writers as well as annotated bibliographies and biographies of authors. The book discusses the various phases in the growth of African literature, but its greatest strength lies in its consideration of writers that started publishing in the last two decades of the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Killam, G. D., ed. The Writing of East and Central Africa. London: Heinemann, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This work includes essays on drama, poetry, and fiction from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The editor’s introduction highlights the reasons East African literature lagged behind other African literatures. The greatest strength of the book is its consideration of non-canonical writers. Authors discussed include Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Meja Mwangi, Ali Mazrui, Jared Angira, Richard Ntiru, and David Maillu.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kurtz, John Roger. Urban Obsessions, Urban Fears: The Postcolonial Kenyan Novel. Trenton, NJ: Africa World 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a well-written overview of the Kenyan urban novel. While giving an overview of developments in the novel, the book offers a valuable background to the literature and an annotated bibliography of Kenyan novels. It does not assume prior knowledge of the literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ogude, James, Grace A. Musila, and Dina Ligaga, eds. Rethinking Eastern African Literary and Intellectual Landscapes. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a collection of nineteen essays on various new currents in contemporary East African art. It includes essays on 21-century work by Nuruddin Farah, and discussions on the Kwani? and Femrite initiatives in Kenya and Uganda, respectively, as well as analyses of popular music (e.g., Tanzania’s “Bongo Flava” hip hop). The introduction (pp. vii–xxvi) and Ogude’s chapter (pp. 1–20) outline the major issues in East African cultural theorizing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Smith, Angela. East African Writing in English. London: New York: Macmillan, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the most useful and readable introductions to East African literature, the book gives an overview of East African letters by exploring works by major writers in different genres. Evaluates the authors’ presentation of the dynamics of power in society. At a time scholars focused exclusively on “serious” literature, this book included discussions of popular authors. Writers discussed include Ngũgĩ, p’Bitek, Maillu, and Meja Mwangi.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Francophone Literature

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are numerous texts written in French in both northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Although not widely known outside their national boundaries, literatures in French from the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros and Madagascar represent a rich heritage of interaction between different cultures. A few poets from Comoros and Madagascar (e.g., Rabearivelo) have been included in anthologies of African work. Most of the major Francophone texts, especially from North and sub-Saharan Africa, have been translated into English. Foundational Francophone writers from sub-Saharan Africa include the Senegalese poet and statesman, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and the Cameroonians Mongo Beti and Ferdinand Oyono. Camara Laye’s The Dark Child (Laye 1954; first published in 1953 as L’Enfant noir) creatively combines fiction and autobiography to present the destruction of African cultures by colonialism. Laye’s work is alluded to in the work of other African writers (e.g., Nuruddin Farah) who feature children as principal characters in their fiction, even if the later portrayals go against Laye’s idealistic presentation of the African child. The Senegalese Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë (Kane 2012; first published in 1961 and translated into English as Ambiguous Adventure) is often referred to in studies of the effects of colonial education on young Africans. Indeed, most of these canonical writers have foregrounded the themes of French colonialism and African identity. In the 1960s, the writers depicted the fight for self-determination from French colonialism. These include Sembène Ousmane, whose God’s Bits of Wood (Ousmane 1998; first published as Les bouts de bois de Dieu in 1960) is celebrated for its depiction of racial and class struggles in Senegal in the 1940s. Newer writing produced in the 1970s has captured the disillusionment with independence and the theme of violence in post-independence Africa, including the Rwanda genocide of 1994. Abdourahman A. Waberi (Djibouti) and Tahar ben Jelloun (Morocco) are admired for their experimental prose. There are also excellent books by women writers, presenting not only the theme of gender equality, but also issues of social and political concern. Widely discussed Francophone women writers include Assia Djebar (Algeria), Calixthe Beyala (Cameroon), Werewere Liking (Cameroon), Véronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast), Leïla Sebbar (Algeria), and Ananda Devi (Mauritius). While there are several studies of Francophone African literatures, Ibnlfassi and Hitchcott 1996 and Ojo and Oke 2000 are good English-language introductions to the literature because they cover a broad range of themes as well as overviews. Newell 2006 is a general introduction to West African literature that includes insightful analysis of Francophone African writing. While Cornevin 1976 is an early French-language introduction to the literature, Chevrier 2006 examines foundational works as well as contemporary themes and writers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Chevrier, Jacques. Littératures francophones d’Afrique noire. Aix-en-Provence, France: Édisud, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A clearly written French-language critical introduction to the Francophone writing, the book includes geographical and historical contexts in which the texts are written, outlining the developments in the writing from black Africa. Authors discussed include foundational writers Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon-Gontran Damas, as well as younger artists (e.g., Véronique Tadjo, Calixthe Beyala, and Emmanuel Dongala). Topics include representations of the Rwanda genocide in works by Boubacar Boris Diop and Tierno Monénembo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cornevin, Robert. Littérature d’Afrique noire de langue française. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An early French-language analysis of Francophone African literature, the book includes an outline of the major cultural events shaping the growth of the writing. It includes a discussion on the definition of “Francophone African literature” and a detailed chapter on oral literature before offering brief discussions of poetry, fiction, and theater from different Francophone countries, including Mauritania and Rwanda. Considers some French writing from Anglophone Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ibnlfassi, Laïla, and Nicki Hitchcott, eds. African Francophone Writing: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Berg, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of thirteen essays on the approaches to French-language African literature, the book includes a chronology as well as detailed discussion of various facets of the literature. Topics include decolonization, works by immigrant writers in France, Marxism in relation to Francophone writing, and women’s writing. Mariama Bâ, Sembène Ousmane, Aminata Sow Fall, Amadou Hampate Ba, Driss Chraibi, and Albert Memmi are among the writers discussed in detail.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kane, Hamidou Cheikh. Ambiguous Adventure. Translated by Katherine Woods. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the novels often cited in African Studies to illustrate the negative effects of modern education on the African mind, the work tells the story of Samba Diallo, who is torn between his Senegalese traditions, epitomized by Qurʾanic education, and the modern European education he receives in Paris. The novel openly sides with African traditions. First published as L’Aventure ambiguë (Paris: Julliard, 1961).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Laye, Camara. The Dark Child. Translated by James Kirkup and Ernest Jones. New York: Noonday, 1954.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An influential work frequently read in African schools, this is a quasi-autobiographical novel of growing up among the Malinke people of French Guinea. It contrasts traditional African values with modern European practices, often siding with the former vis-à-vis the latter. First published as L’Enfant noir (Paris: Plon, 1953) and translated into English in 1954. Also available as The African Child (London: Collins, 1970).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Newell, Stephanie. West African Literatures: Ways of Reading. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A clearly written study of West African literature, the book includes outlines on Francophone African writing. It reads fiction, drama, and poetry. The book considers a rich diversity of writers (e.g., Véronique Tadjo, Werewere Liking, Calixthe Beyala, Sembène Ousmane, and Léopold Sédar Senghor). Topics include feminist responses to Négritude and queer preoccupations in Francophone African writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ojo, Sam Ade, and Olusola Oke, eds. Introduction to Francophone African Literature: A Collection of Essays. Oxford: Spectrum, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Targeting non-French-speaking readers of Francophone African literature, especially in Anglophone Africa, this is a collection of thirteen simply written essays on various aspects of Francophone African literature, including general overviews. Topics include feminism, Négritude poetry, oral literature, and national theaters. Complemented by Ojo and Oke’s other edited volume on the subject, Themes in African Literature in French (Oxford: Spectrum, 2000).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ousmane, Sembène. God’s Bits of Wood. Translated by Francis Price. Oxford: Heinemann 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A widely discussed story about the anticolonial struggle in Senegal and Mali, this novel is based on a railroad strike in 1948. It is one of the foundational African texts that is highly sensitive to gender concerns. Its large cast of characters suggests the collective efforts by the masses against an exploitative system. Originally published as Les bouts de bois de Dieu (Paris: Le Livre Contemporain, 1960).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              West Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The first sets of texts from the Francophone regions of Africa were about the clash between colonial culture and African traditions. For example, originally published in 1956 as Une vie de boy (Houseboy), Oyono 2008 uses the diary form to examine the brutality of colonialism as experienced by an indigenous Cameroonian. Also first published in 1956 as Le pauvre Christ de Bomba (The Poor Christ of Bomba), Beti 1971 satirizes colonial and missionary officers, who are grossly ignorant about African cultures. Kourouma 1981 was first published in 1968 and is one of the first Francophone African texts to criticize post-independence governments for limiting freedoms. Senghor 1976 is a collection of the foremost poet’s work in its original French and English translation. Originally published in 1979 as Une si longue lettre, Bâ 1981 is an influential text on women’s rights in the face of indigenous and Islamic traditions in Senegal. Beyala 1996 was originally published as C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée in 1987 and treats themes of prostitution in shantytown and possibilities of lesbian relationships in Africa. While also dealing with the theme of violence and identity, Diop 2006 is based on the Rwanda genocide of 1994. Tadjo 2002 also presents the horrors of the Rwanda genocide from the perspectives of the survivors of the violence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bâ, Mariama. So Long a Letter. Oxford: Heinemann, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A broadly studied semi-autobiographical novel presented as a letter written by a widow to a woman friend, it examines such themes as inheritance and polygamy. It is one of the first African novels to employ the epistolary mode. Originally published as Une si longue lettre (Dakar, Senegal: Les Nouvelles Éditions Africaines, 1979).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Beti, Mongo. The Poor Christ of Bomba. Translated by Gerald Moore. London: Heinemann, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A satirical novel about the collapse of a Catholic mission in interior Cameroon around the 1930s because of a missionary’s ignorance about African culture. It is studied as a trenchant criticism of colonialism and Western paternalistic attitude toward Africans. Originally published as Le pauvre Christ de Bomba (Paris: R. Laffont, 1956).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Beyala, Calixthe. The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me. Translated by Marjolijn De Jager. Oxford: Heinemann, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Beyala’s first novel is about Ateba Leocadie, a young woman struggling as a prostitute in a city slum. It treats the themes of motherhood and tension between rural traditions and urban modernity, as well as lesbian desire. Other themes include alienation and abandonment. Written in a fragmentary style. Originally published as C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée (Paris: Éditions J’ai lu, 1987).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Diop, Boubacar Boris. Murambi: The Book of Bones. Translated by Fiona McLaughlin. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A novel based on interviews with survivors of the Rwanda genocide, the story revolves around attempts by a history teacher, Cornelius Uvimana, to comprehend the events in his country after he returns from his job in Djibouti shortly after the genocide. Originally published as Murambi: Le livre des ossements (Paris: Stock, 2000).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kourouma, Ahmadou. The Suns of Independence. London: Heinemann, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A novel of disillusionment with post-independence African regimes, it tells the story of Fama, a Togolese who, despite having fought for independence, now lives in poverty in the city with his childless wife. The post-independence government won’t allow him to speak to his people when he returns to the village to take a leadership role. Features the theme of female circumcision. First published as Les soleils des indépendances (Montreal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1968).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Oyono, Ferdinand. Houseboy. Translated by John Reed. Harlow, UK: Heinemann, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Structured through the device of a diary of a dead man, Toundi, who worked as a houseboy for a colonial officer, the novel is supposed to be the man’s notes as read by the Frenchman who discovers it. It criticizes colonialism as a morally corrupt and violent system. Originally published as Une vie de boy (Paris: Editions Julliard, 1956).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Senghor, Léopold Sédar. Selected Poems/Poésies choisies. Edited by Craig Williamson. London: Rex Collins, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A collection of Senghor’s poetry in its original French and in English translation, the book offers poems from Senghor’s previous collections, Éthiopiques (1974) and Chants d’ombre (1945). Includes an introduction by Craig Williamson.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tadjo, Véronique. The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda. Oxford: Heinemann, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Based on testimonies collected in Rwanda about the 1994 genocide, the novel is a mixture of short stories, personal observations, and testimonies (some factual, others fictional). The novel is discussed in studies of memory and representation. It was originally published as L’Ombre d’Imana: Voyages jusqu’au bout du Rwanda (Arles, France: Actes Sud, 2000).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Francophone African literature continues to attract innovative scholarship in both English and French. Blair 1976 is an early and accessible discussion of the historical conditions that give rise to foundational African writing in former French colonies. Jack 1996 is also a survey of Francophone writing that includes a discussion of sub-Saharan literary trends and texts. Kesteloot 1991 is devoted to the Négritude movement as it is manifested in Francophone literatures in Africa and the black diaspora, discussing work by Camara Laye and Léopold Sédar Senghor in detail. Also using foundational texts, Miller 1990 is a theoretically deep text that offers a good example of how to make use of the interdependence of anthropological studies and African literatures. While examining well-known artists such as Ahmadou Hampâté Bâ, Cazenave and Célérier 2011 considers the circulation of literature in the age of the Internet. For its part, Tissières 2012 is a lucid text that discusses inter-medial borrowing between visual artist, oral literature, and writing. Several works have discussed gender issues. These include D’Almeida 1994, which examines women’s writing emerging from Francophone Africa since the late 1960s. For her part, the author of Larrier 2000 conducts a comparative analysis of African and Caribbean authors writing in French. Although most of the analyses of Francophone African literature are on art from sub-Saharan and Maghreb Africa, there are a few texts on Indian Ocean literature in French. These include Mdahoma 2012 (cited under Francophone Indian Ocean Islands: Scholarship), which examines literature from Comoros.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Blair, Dorothy. African Literature in French: A History of Creative Writing in French from West and Equatorial Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An accessible historical survey by a pioneer scholar of the literature, it traces social, educational, and political influences on such movements as Négritude and other forms of writing from former French colonies in Africa. An early text, it has been used to study foundational writers (e.g., Senghor, Oyono, and Beti). Includes short reviews of major works.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cazenave, Odile M., and Patricia Célérier. Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitment. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Evaluates political and social concerns among African artists. Includes a discussion of publishing networks, technological influences, and the role of the Internet in the production and circulation of literature. Writers discussed include well-known artists like Ahmadou Hampâté Bâ as well as emergent ones, such as Calixthe Beyala (Cameroon) and Florent Couao-Zotti (Benin).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • D’Almeida, Irène Assiba. Francophone African Women Writers: Destroying the Emptiness of Silence. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An empathetic reading of women’s novels and autobiographies since the late 1960s. Includes analysis of work by Kuoh-Moukouri, Angèle Rawiri, Nafissatou Diallo, Ken Bugul, Calixthe Beyala, Andrée Blouin, Werewere Liking, Aminata Sow Fall, and Véronique Tadjo. Discusses themes like motherhood as presented in the works under analysis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jack, Belinda Elizabeth. Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A well-written and accessible study that includes a survey of African Francophone literature in the context of other world literatures in French. Includes a rich bibliography. Emphasizes the plurality of the literatures by comparing the literatures of different regions. Draws on French theories of literature to examine the texts relationship to postmodern and post-structuralist thought,

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kesteloot, Lilyan. Black Writers in French: A Literary History of Negritude. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is a useful overview of Francophone African literature that gives a detailed discussion of the Négritude movement both in the African continent and the black diaspora. Topics include surrealism in African letters, a discussion of works by Sédar Senghor, Alioune Diop, and Camara Laye. Examines the journal Présence Africaine. Useful overview of writing in the 1960s of newer writers in relation to Négritude aesthetics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Larrier, Renée Brenda. Francophone Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A significant book examining how women writers use oral tradition to create woman-centered/woman-narrated texts. Focusing on prose works from both the Caribbean and such African countries as Cameroon, Mali, and Senegal, the author includes in her analysis writing by Werewere Liking, Mariama Bâ, Calixthe Beyala, and Aoua Keita.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Miller, Christopher. Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a sophisticated and groundbreaking work that discusses ethnicity and African literature and includes chapters on orality. It argues that a fair analysis of African texts must engage with theories of revisionist anthropology that urge against self-conferred authority on a foreign culture and demand contextualization of a text in relation to others like it. Authors discussed include Mariama Bâ, Camara Laye, Ahmadou Kourouma, Sembène Ousmane, and Cheikh Hamidou Kane.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tissières, Hélène. Transmigrational Writings between the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa: Literature, Orality, Visual Arts. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Considering the intersection of various media (e.g., painting, oral performance, and writing), the book discusses work by writers (e.g., Werewere Liking and Tchicaya U Tam’Si). The author uses both theoretical and textual discussions of the subject matter. Originally published in French as Écritures en transhumance entre Maghreb et Afrique subsaharienne: Littérature, oralité, arts visuels (Paris: Éditions l’Harmattan, 2007).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Central Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Francophone central African literature is in different genres and covers different themes. The texts that have captured the attention of scholars most seem to be early texts that celebrate the indigenous culture that is at the mercy of colonial modernity. In a region that has suffered dictatorships, another central theme of the writing is the ways the populace resists these authoritarian regimes. Works from Congo-Brazzaville dominate the study of Africa through literature from Francophone central Africa. Tchicaya U Tam’Si is one of the finest poets of the 20th century, whose works evoke the surrealist movement in its negritudist defense of African culture from destructive forces of Western education and religion. When Sony Labou Tansi burst onto the literary scene, he disrupted the conventions of the time by writing in an experimental style that devastatingly satirized authoritarian regimes in allegorical narratives. Other major writers from Congo-Brazzaville include Sylvain Bemba, Caya Makhele, Henri Lopes, Daniel Biyaoula, and Alain Mabancko. From the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), the best-known philosopher is V. Y. Mudimbe, who theorizes the construction of Africa by the West. Like his philosophical books, his novel, L’Écart (1979; translated as The Rift), is about the construction of African knowledge in Western institutions. The Rwandan philosopher, linguist, historian, poet, and Catholic priest Alexis Kagame (b. 1912–d. 1981) is also a common name in the study of Africa through literature, especially his use of his native Kinyarwanda to reflect on the African personality. The Rwandan genocide of the 1990s has captured the imagination of novelists from the region, and scholars have also examined how writers have responded to the horrifying event.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Although male Congolese writers dominate in discussions of central Africa through literary art, Joubert 1995 is a wide-ranging anthology of writing from different countries of the central part of Africa. The region has also attracted the attention of world virtuosos. One of the founders of Négritude movements wrote Césaire 2010 in 1966 to commemorate the death of Patrice Lumumba at the hands of Western agencies at the height of the Cold War, a theme also dramatized in Sylvain Bemba’s 1984 play, Léopolis. Like Césaire, Tchicaya U Tam’Si is better known as a poet, but his U Tam’Si 1977 is a play examining the life of Zulu leader, Shaka, and analyzing the role of supernatural forces and Shaka’s character in determining the leader’s destiny. Dongala 2003 is a historical fresco narrating the life of a mysterious character who develops in tandem with the changes taking place in his nation. Written by a foundational author, Lopes 1987 is a collection of stories treating a variety of themes (e.g., tribalism in modern Africa). Writers from the region have tried to recreate the history of the communities, suggesting the difficulties of such a task. Dongala 2003 is about a man whose life seems to closely parallel that of the Congolese nation. Mudimbe’s works are equally concerned with history. First published in 1979, Mudimbe 1993 is a self-reflexive novel about the problems of writing one’s African history from Western archives. Gatore 2012 is also a self-reflexive novel from Rwanda about coming to terms with the memories of the 1994 genocide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Césaire, Aimé. A Season in the Congo. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. London: Seagull, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A fiery play about the killing of the Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba (1925–1961), the work is faithful to the Cold War historical events that led to the murder. It evokes Césaire’s identification with Africa by presenting Lumumba as aligned neither with communists nor with capitalists but being first and foremost among the “African nationalists.” First published as Saison au Congo (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1966),

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dongala, Emmanuel. Fire of Origins: A Novel. Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An epic novel, it tells the story of the mythical Mandala Mankuku, who is born in mysterious circumstances, becomes a blacksmith and a healer in his village, and witnesses the horrors of colonialism. Mankuku joins the revolutionary war for independence, but his importance wanes in the post-independence period. Originally published as Feu des origines (Paris: Albin Michel, 1987).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gatore, Gilbert. The Past Ahead: A Novel. Translated by Marjolijn De Jager. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    While celebrating the survivors of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, this experimental novel highlights the difficulties of having to live with the memories of the traumatic event. The story revolves around the destinies of Isaro and Niko. Isaro is an orphan who returns to Rwanda to be haunted by the horrible events of the mass killings. Niko is a fictional character in a novel Isaro writes to help her cope with the past.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Joubert, Jean-Louis, ed. Littératures francophones d’Afrique centrale: Anthologie. Paris: Nathan, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The French-language anthology offers an introduction to the main themes and stylistic trends in the writing as well as a chronology of publishing and historical events stretching back to 3000 BCE. Provides biographies of the authors and comprehension questions. Mainly comprising male writers (e.g. Dongala, Tansi, and Ntari-Bemba) but includes a few women writers (e.g. Clémentine Madiya Faïk-Nzuji and María Nsué Angüe). Includes work from Chad, Gabon, Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lopes, Henri. Tribaliks: Contemporary Congolese Stories. Translated by Andrea Leskes. London: Heinemann Educational, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Eight short stories about post-independence Africa; they cover the themes of dictatorship and abuse of office, the role of education in development, and gender predicaments. The introduction gives a quick overview of the author’s works and concerns and explains his motivations to write in simple language. First published as Tribaliques (Yaoundé, Cameroon: Éditions Clé, 1971).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mudimbe, V. Y. The Rift. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A provocative novel, this is a self-reflexive story about textuality and African personality. It revolves around an African student in Paris writing a dissertation on the history of his Kouba people. He discusses with other African students the usefulness of various Western theories in the interpretation of Africa. Originally published in French as L’Écart. (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1979)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tansi, Sony Labou. Life and a Half. Translated by Alison Dundy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a haunting novel about Martial, a man who is killed but whose spirit lives on to guide his compatriots in the struggle against an autocrat. Set in an unnamed African country, it presents itself as a fable to elude censorship. Regarded to have ushered in an experimental mode of writing in Francophone writing, which combines magical realism with scientific logic. Originally published as La vie et demie (Paris: Seuil, 1979)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • U Tam’Si, Tchicaya. Le zulu et Vwène le fondateur. Paris: Nubia, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A three-act play about the life and times of the legendary Zulu leader, Chaka, the play also recalls Macbeth in an opening scene in which the spectator encounters witches. Refers to the supernatural but highlights Chaka’s exceptional qualities that ensure his rise to power.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Though not as widely discussed as Francophone literature from West Africa and North Africa, a few prolific writers (e.g., Sony Labou Tansi) have received a fair amount of criticism. Anyinefa 1989 is a useful bibliography covering works from Congo produced since the 1950s to 1986, including secondary references on major authors. The innovative Sony Labou Tansi is the most discussed writer from the region. Moudileno 2006a not only critiques the view of Tansi’s work as part of “magical realism” but also reviews secondary materials on the author. Published in a special issue on gender in Francophone literature, Thomas 2001 is a convincingly argued essay on Tansi’s references to sex to undermine an authoritarian regime. Achille Mbembe’s famous book, On the Postcolony (Mbembe 2001), draws some of its examples from Tansi’s work. Despite Tansi’s dominance, there are several works discussing him and other writers as well, especially book-length studies on Congolese literature. Moudileno’s Parades postcoloniales (Moudileno 2006b) uses Mbembe and Bakhtin to analyze Tansi alongside other Congolese writers, especially Sylvain Bemba, Henri Lopes, Daniel Biyaoula, and Alain Mabancko. While Anyinefa 1990 claims that national ideology is not reflected in novels critical of socialist dictatorships, Thomas 2002 examines the relationship between art and the state in Congo. For its part, Conteh-Morgan 2006 includes two chapters on Congolese theater.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Anyinefa, Koffi. “Bibliographie de la litterature congolaise d’expression francaise.” Research in African Literatures 20.3 (1989): 481–507.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A useful bibliography of Congolese literature up to 1986, the article offers listings of works by well-known writers (e.g., Henri Lopes, Sylvain Bemba, Emmanuel Dongala, Sony Labu Tansi, Guy Menga, Makouta-M’Boukou, and Tchicaya U Tam’Si as well as less-known ones (e.g., Albert Kambi-Bitchene, Dominic Loangi, and Alphonse Bamana). It provides lists of novels, plays, anthologies, and criticism, including secondary work on each major writer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Anyinefa, Koffi. Littérature et politique en Afrique noire: Socialisme et dictature comme thèmes du roman congolais d’expression française. Bayreuth, Germany: Bayreuth University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a detailed and shrewd French-language reading of the Congolese political novel by what the critic views as established writers between 1973 and 1982. It examines work by Sony Labou Tansi, Henri Lopes, Emmanuel Dongala, and Jean-Pierre Makouta-Mboukou in terms of how they represent socialist dictatorships. The book problematically disavows the role of socialist state ideology in the literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Conteh-Morgan, John. Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa: A Critical Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A well-written explication of Francophone plays, the book includes an analysis of U Tam’Si’s Le zulu et Vwène le fondateur and Casaire’s Saison au Congo. Targeting people who may not have read the plays, the book gives detailed descriptions of the action and simple discussions of themes and characterization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Mbembe, Achille. On the Postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a highly respected text on power in postcolonial societies that draws most of its examples from Francophone central Africa and uses Sony Labou Tansi’s La vie et demie (Life and a Half) to examine the subversion of state power through grotesque representations. Mbembe particularly notes the novelist’s repeated references to body orifices and the extravagance of those in power.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Moudileno, Lydie. “Magical Realism: ‘Arme miraculeuse’ for the African Novel?” Research in African Literatures 37.1 (Spring 2006a): 28–41.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A critique of the tendency to read Sony Labou Tansi’s La vie et demie (Life and a Half) as a magical realist text, the essay argues that although Tansi inserts marvelous elements in his fiction, the novel has a scientific logic that disrupts the distinction between science and magic. The essay usefully reviews scholarship on Tansi and summarizes debates on magical realism in the study of African literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Moudileno, Lydie. Parades postcoloniales: La fabrication des identités dans le roman congolais. Paris: Karthala, 2006b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a provocative French-language text that uses Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Achille Mbembe, and Jean Godefroy Bidima to examine the playfulness and experimentation in works by Congolese writers: Sylvain Bemba, Sony Labou Tansi, Henri Lopes, Daniel Biyaoula, and Alain Mabanckou. Considers the political codes in the stories and their reception.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thomas, Dominic. “Sony Labou Tansi: Nationalism and Masculinity.” Nottingham French Studies 4.1 (2001): 20–30.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Positing that Francophone postcolonial literature denounces the control of the body by the state, the essay convincingly argues that the body and sexual activities are crucial in understanding power in Tansi’s work, as the artist deploys the body as site of protest against state control. Using and extending Achille Mbembe’s theory of the grotesque, the essay discusses the notion of the popular and power in Tansi novels. Excellent reading of L’État honteux.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Thomas, Dominic. Nation-building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A carefully written analysis especially of central African literature in French, the book examines the relationship between art and the state. The scholar discusses writers who toed the state propaganda line (e.g., Maxime N’debeka, Jean-François Obembe, Mamonsosso, Xavier Okotaka-Ebale, and Eta-Onka) and those who subverted the government program (e.g., Sony Labou Tansi, Henri Lopes, and Emmanuel Dongala).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Francophone Indian Ocean Islands

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rarely discussed as part of African studies, Indian Ocean literatures in French meditates on some of the concerns of sub-Saharan Africa, even if the authors are not of African descent. Some (e.g., Raharimanana) have published their work in flagship outlets of African writing (e.g., Présence Africaine) in the same series as Francophone African artists, while others (e.g., Ananda Devi) have indeed been published by African presses. The region’s most well-known poet, Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, is usually read as a precursor of the Négritude movement. His work is anthologized in African collections and reissued in Heinemann’s canonizing African Writers Series. While European visitors to Indian Ocean islands depicted the place as a paradise, local writers, especially women, have been keen to realistically show the poverty and marginalization women experience in their daily lives. Some writers present the theme of multiracial migrant experiences, while others are concerned about life in the city. Studies of the literature have compared it with Caribbean and African literary movements and writing practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are several texts from this region in English translation or in French- and local-language originals. Rabearivelo 1975 is one of the first English translations of the work of Rabearivelo, who is considered the first African poet and an important precursor of the Négritude movement. Rabearivelo 2010 is Rabearivelo’s oeuvre in French. Joubert, et al. 1993 is a collection of poetry from various of the islands and includes biographies of authors and chronologies. For its part, Bourgeacq and Ramarosoa 2002 is an anthology of Madagascar poetry that includes a wide spectrum of writers. Published the same year, Haring 2002 is a collection of folktales from various Indian Ocean islands; some of the stories reveal their African origins. Gauvin 1990 is a story about a physically fragile boy told in a multiplicity of voices that signal the tensions within the wider society. Devi 1988 is an accomplished work that presents a woman’s experiences in the city. Raharimanana 2008 is a play that the Madagascar government could not allow to be performed because of its critique of the conditions in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bourgeacq, Jacques, and Liliane Ramarosoa. Voices from Madagascar: An Anthology of Contemporary Francophone Literature/ Voix de Madagascar: Anthologie de littérature francophone contemporaine. Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A rich collection of poetry and prose presented both in its French original and in English translation. Presents an outline of Madagascar literature. Provides biographical notes of the authors. Includes writing by pioneers, such as Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo and Rado (aka Georges Andriamanantena), as well as later artists like Michèle Rakotoson.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Devi, Ananda. Rue la poudrière: Roman. Abidjan, Ivory Coast: Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is an acclaimed first-person narrative novel about a Mauritius girl who rebels and becomes a prostitute in the city. The novels title refers to a real-life street in Mauritius. While male travel writers tended to present the street as a sex paradise, this novel presents it as a site of pain, exploitation, and isolation. The protagonist Paule feels estranged and imprisoned within the island’s boundaries.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gauvin, Axel. L’Aimé: Roman. Paris: Seuil, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A sad but humorously told story from Réunion about an orphan, Ptit-me, who arrives at the home of his grandmother, Margrite Bellon, damaged physically and psychologically in many ways. The novel uses multiple narrative voices to suggest the tension between the world of the caring grandmother and the conditions outside her home. Infuses creole proverbs and words.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Haring, Lee. Indian Ocean Folktales. Chennai, India: National Folklore Support Centre, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A collection of twenty-seven tales from Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, Réunion, and Seychelles, collected between the 1880s and 1990s. Includes stories whose origin is markedly East African, while others are from Yoruba and Wolof cultures in West Africa. The book’s introduction discusses the stories in relation to African and other source cultures. Collection showcases the diversity and hybridity of the island cultures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Joubert, Jean-Louis, Amina Osman, and Liliane Ramaroso, eds. Littératures francophones de l’océan indien: Anthologie. Paris: Groupe de la Cité international Création-Diffusion, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A French-language collection of diverse poetry from different Indian Ocean islands, the book presents work of major foundational figures like Jean-Joseph Rabearivela and Jacques Rabemananjara. Newer writers—Mohamed Toihiri, Jean-Luc Raharimanana, and Michèle Rakotoson—included. Offers chronologies of publications in each region covered, biographies of the authors, annotations, and comprehension and revision questions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rabearivelo, Jean-Joseph. Translations from the Night: Selected Poems of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo. Edited by John Reed and Clive Wake. London: Heinemann Educational, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A bilingual volume (French and English) of poems from Rabearivelo’s six collections, the book includes an introduction that puts the writer in the context of French symbolist writing and Négritude poetry. Discusses Rabearivelo’s Malagasy poetry and has a bibliography of his writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rabearivelo, Jean-Joseph. Oeuvres completes. Paris: CNRS, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Edited by Serge Meitinger, Liliane Ramarosoa, and Claire Riffard, this volume brings together the work of Rabearivelo in French. The introduction puts the work in the context of early-20th-century French writing and gives a brief biography of the poet and an outline about his politics and aesthetics. Book includes useful chronologies covering historical developments as well as Rabearivelo’s literary production. Contains Rabearivelo’s correspondence a dictionary of names and places related to his writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Raharimanana, Jean-Luc. Le prophète et le president. Bertoua, Cameroon: NDZE, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A controversial satirical play about poverty and underdevelopment in Madagascar, it was not staged after the cast started receiving death threats during rehearsals at Alliance Française in Antananarivo in 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Since the 1990s, there has been robust interest in Indian Ocean literatures. Mauguière 2004 offers a quick outline of the literatures in French from the different islands. There have also been outstanding theoretically leaning essays. Written by one of the leading voices calling for more critical analyses of these literatures, Lionnet 1993 serves as an excellent model for thinking through the Indian Ocean literatures in a way that recognizes their plurality and internal differences; Lionnet has in other works offered superb readings of Indian Ocean authors (e.g., her analysis of Ananda Devi in Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity). Like Lionnet, Hawkins 2007 compares Indian Ocean literatures with work from the Caribbean islands to highlight its creoleness. There have also been analyses of individual authors. Adejunmobi 1996 offers a detailed analysis of Rabearivelo’s works, including his rarely discussed dramas and translations of Western poetry. Mdahoma 2012 discusses work from the Comoros, while Issur and Hookoomsing 2001 is an edited volume on canonical and new literatures in creole from the various islands. Also an edited volume, McCusker and Soares 2011 contains two essays in Indian Ocean literature: one on Ananda Devi and the other on slavery as a cultural signifier in Mauritius. If Lionnet’s work is the most invigorating theorist, Joubert 1991 offers a good model for practical analysis of the literature, as he gives insightful readings of the major works from different islands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Adejunmobi, Moradewun. JJ Rabearivelo, Literature, and Lingua Franca in Colonial Madagascar. New York: P. Lang, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is a thorough discussion of Rabearivelo’s work in relation to the impact of French colonialism on the colonies. It considers the publication, reception, and circulation of writing from colonial Madagascar. Argues that Rabearivelo’s anticolonial literature exemplifies how French as a metropolitan language can appropriate political and literary authority of writers from colonized world. Refers to Rabearivelo’s translations of European and American work. Offers model close readings of Rabearivelo’s poems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hawkins, Peter. The Other Hybrid Archipelago: Introduction to the Literatures and Cultures of the Francophone Indian Ocean. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a handy and easily accessible book that compares Francophone Indian Ocean literature with its Caribbean counterpart. It opens with an outline on the literature in the context of Anglophone and Francophone postcolonial theory before discussing texts from individual islands: Madagascar, Mauritius, La Réunion, the Comoros, and the Seychelles. Examines the assertion of creole identities through the literature. Includes a rich bibliography and discography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Issur, Kumari R., and Vinesh Y. Hookoomsing, eds. L’Océan indien dans les littératures francophones: Pays réels, pays rêvés, pays révélés. Paris: Éd. Karthala, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a French-language edited volume of forty-eight essays offering discussions of Indian Ocean literatures in French. The introduction lays out the major developments in the literary production. The book discusses the literature in the context of world Francophone writing from the 16th century to the early 21st. Devotes considerable space to foundational figures (e.g., Jacques-Gérard Milbert) and to contemporary literature in creole.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Joubert, Jean-Louis. Littératures de l’océan indien. Paris: Agence universitaire de la francophonie, EDICEF, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A useful French-language reference book on Indian Ocean literatures in French from their inception to around the 1980s, the book presents writing by island or set of islands. Considers the importance of the islands’ geography in the production of literature and discuses works on exile. Offers chronologies, maps, bibliography, and an outline of literary institutions that have shaped literary writing and circulation. Compiled in collaboration with Jean-Irénée Ramiandrasoa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lionnet, Françoise. “Créolité in the Indian Ocean: Two Models of Cultural Diversity.” Yale French Studies 82.1 (1993): 101–112.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is a model for theorizing Indian Ocean cultures in a way that does not elide the differences among them. The essay discusses language and culture from the two Mascarene islands of Madagascar and Réunion to argue for a model of analysis that puts multiracialism and plurilingualism at the center. Interesting analyses of splintering differences between and within islands that consider themselves “sisters.” Draws parallels between Indian Ocean theories and Caribbean literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mauguière, Bénédicte. “Francophone Literatures in the Indian Ocean.” In The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Vol. 2. Edited by F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, 569–583. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A useful outline of the literatures in French from the various islands in the Indian Ocean, it starts with a history of the island’s origins and an appreciation of their diversity. It considers the taxonomy established by leading scholars of the Indian Ocean literature as a discipline: oral literature, literature in French, and modern literature in local languages. Gives examples from Mauritius, Réunion, and the archipelago of Comoros.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • McCusker, Maeve, and Anthony Soares, eds. Islanded Identities: Constructions of Postcolonial Cultural Insularity. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A collection of ten essays on the island as a site of colonial aggression and anticolonial resistance, the book includes two essays specifically on Indian Ocean islands literature in French. Ritu Tyagi’s “Rethinking Identity and Belonging” (pp. 91–108) discusses Ananda Devi’s use of history and works of her predecessors to present the theme of identity, while Schnepel and Schnepel’s essay (pp. 109–126) discusses slavery in Mauritius.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Mdahoma, Ali Abdou. Le roman comorien de langue française. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              French-language discussion of novels in French from the Comoros, especially those written after the 1980s, the volume includes analysis of novels by such authors as Mohamed Toihiri, Nassu Attouman, and Salim Hatubou. Issues under discussion include history and politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maghreb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              North African literature blossomed in the 1950s with the publication of such works as Memmi 1992, a story about identity and self-discovery. Also first published in the 1950s, Yacine 1991 is an allegory about national identity. Khatibi 1971 critiques absolutism by telling the story of a young man developing into a politically engaged adult. While the foundational literature was mainly about national identity and the struggle for independence, the 1980s saw the rise of literature about gender identity. Ben Jelloun 1987 and its sequel show the fluidity of gender by telling the story of a woman brought up as a man. Djebar 1992 is a celebrated collection of short stories by one of the most celebrated African female writers; it is about Algerian women’s experiences. Like in other parts of the continent, disillusionment with oppressive national leadership after independence is a recurrent theme in North African texts published since the 1970s. Ben Jelloun 2002 is a story about resiliency against torture and imprisonment by a brutal regime. Islamic fundamentalism has also become a recurrent motif in emergent North African fiction. Djaout 2007 tells the story of a bookseller who falls prey to a conservative religious group that takes over his country. With the major characters left without names to highlight their alienation, Sebbar 2000 explores the theme of identity among Algerians in the French diaspora, like most of her other fiction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ben Jelloun, Tahar. The Sand Child. Translated by Alan Sheridan. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A story about identity, the novel is about a girl who is given a male name at birth and brought up as a man when her wealthy father fails to get a son. First published as L’Enfant de sable (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1985). La nuit sacrée (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1987) is its sequel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ben Jelloun, Tahar. This Blinding Absence of Light. Translated by Linda Coverdale. New York: New Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A narrative about survival in a brutal prison in Morocco, it is based on a factual imprisonment of junior officers involved in a coup attempt against the Moroccan regime. Originally published as Cette aveuglante absence de lumière: Roman (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Djaout, Tahar. The Last Summer of Reason: A Novel. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Written by an accomplished writer who was assassinated for his opposition to fundamentalism, this is the story of Boualem Yekker, a man who falls victim to intolerance and religious zealotry in a nation that closely resembles Algeria. This edition has a foreword by the first African Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka, and an introduction by Alek Toumi. First published as Le dernier été de la raison (Paris: Seuil, 1999).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Djebar, Assia. Women of Algiers in Their Apartment. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A widely referenced collection of six short stories and an essay about women’s experiences in Algeria. Refers in its title to the 1834 painting of harem women by the French artist Eugène Delacroix. Originally published as Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (Paris: Des Femmes, 1980).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Khatibi, Abdelkébir. La mémoire tatouée. Paris: Denoël, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A fictionalized autobiography, this book centers on Khatibi’s development from childhood to a politically engaged writer. Unlike a conventional autobiography, it is nonlinear and highlights its own fictional elements while at the same time making references to world events (e.g., World War II).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Memmi, Albert. The Pillar of Salt. Translated by Edouard Roditi. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A loosely autobiographical novel, this is the story of about Alexandre Mordekhai Benillouche, a Jewish boy in colonial Tunisia, who struggles for self-discovery and basic survival in the poor neighborhoods of Tunisia. He abandons the Judaism of his ancestral community, but he is unable to assimilate into Western or French culture. Originally published as La statue de sel (Paris: Corréa, 1953).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Sebbar, Leïla. Silence on the Shores. Translated by Mildred P. Mortimer. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A haunting minimalist novel about alienation in the Algerian diaspora in France, this work tells the story of an unnamed man who, in his final days, fears dying alone. He left Algeria as a young man to look for work in France, married a Frenchwoman, and broke the promise to his mother that he would return one day. Originally published as Le silence des rives (Paris: Stock, 1993).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Yacine, Kateb. Nedjma. Translated by Richard Howard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is an allegorical and cryptic story in which four friends (Mustapha, Lakhdar, Rachid, Mourad) simultaneously fall in love with the enigmatic Nedjma and compete with one another for her. Nedjma is seen as a symbol of Algeria. The novel depicts the violence that has defined Algerian history and critiques the disunity of the nation in the face of colonial invasion. First published as Nedjma: Roman (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1956).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The cultural diversity in North African literature has attracted many literary scholars. Jack 1996 is an excellent introductory survey that puts the literature of the Maghreb in the context of wider Francophone world cultural production. Geesy 2004 offers a quick survey of the literature from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Mortimer 2001 brings together essays on various topics and authors from the region. Students of nationalism have used the literature to examine their subject. Woodhull 1993 studies anticolonial struggles and nationalism, using works by a wide range of North African authors and theorists (e.g., Fatema Mernissi, Frantz Fanon, and Kateb Yacine) in a post-structural framework. Orlando 1999 uses a similar framework to argue that postmodernism has altered the way Maghreb identities are viewed. For its part, Bensmaïa 2003 reads experimental fiction and cinema from the Maghreb to critique theories of nationalism. Tissières 2012 also considers visual arts in its study of the circulation of printed, visual, and oral texts from North Africa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bensmaïa, Réda. Experimental Nations; or, the Invention of the Maghreb. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A critique of nationalism, this is a study of the role of experimental literature and film in nation-building processes in North Africa. Includes careful readings of important authors and filmmakers (e.g., Merzak Allouache, Tahar Djaout, Assia Djebar, Abdelkébir Khatibi, and Mouloud Feraoun).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Geesy, Patricia. “North African Literature in French.” In The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Vol. 2. Edited by F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, 552–568. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An easy-to-read survey of the literary events in Francophone North Africa against the background of historical developments, (e.g., “the Algerian Revolution” of the 1950s), the essay considers the influence of French intellectuals on artistic production from North Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jack, Belinda Elizabeth. Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A well-written and accessible study that includes a discussion of Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian literature in French in the context of Francophone world writing, it is an excellent survey for a beginner. It considers some work from the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean islands. Discussions are arranged by country of the writer’s origin. The volume has a rich bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Mortimer, Mildred P., ed. Maghrebian Mosaic: A Literature in Transition. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A carefully selected collection of sixteen essays on different aspects of the literatures and cultures of Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, it includes examination of writing by groups, such as women and Buer (French immigrants), as well as individual authors (e.g., Leïla Sebbar, Assia Djebar, Malika Mokeddem, and Akli Tadjer). The book does an excellent job in including women critics discussing women’s writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Orlando, Valérie. Nomadic Voices of Exile: Feminine Identity in Francophone Literature of the Maghreb. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Critiquing scholars who have questioned the usability of post-structuralism in African studies, this is a well-written book that studies the postmodern sentiments in Maghrebi literature in French. It argues that the literature blends different complicated worlds and multiple identities, drawing examples from writers resident in North Africa as well as those in exile in France. Requires one to have prior knowledge of postmodernism and North African literature to grasp the arguments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tissières, Hélène. Transmigrational Writings between the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa: Literature, Orality, Visual Arts. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An innovative book that examines the circulation of Francophone texts from different regions. Authors discussed include Assia Djebar (Algeria) and Abdelwahab Meddeb (Tunisia). Considers inter-medial influences among oral, written, and visual texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Woodhull, Winifred. Transfigurations of the Maghreb: Feminism, Decolonization, and Literatures. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The book sets out to use “nomadic” theories of language in the form of post-structuralism to examine migrant literature from North Africa. It reads such authors as Fatema Mernissi, Frantz Fanon, Kateb Yacine, and Mohammed Dib, to examine their depiction of North African decolonization efforts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Francophone Horn of Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Literature from the Francophone Horn of Africa is not as widely known as its counterparts from other regions of the continent. Much of the region’s literature is in oral form and in local languages, especially Afar in the north and Somali in the south. Coming from Djibouti and Somali, the literature depicts nomadic life, the conflict between modernity and traditions, colonialism, exile, dictatorships, and experiences of Africans abroad. There is also a steadily growing literature on slum life and corruption in high office. The literature captures the multilingual nature of the society, especially in the urban areas. Abdourahman Ali Waberi from Djibouti is probably the only writer who is well known, but there has been writing from the region since the 1950s. Of the early writers, the Somali poet William Syad is the best known, though not widely discussed. More contemporary authors include Daher Ahmed Farah, whose work is about nomadism, city life, and corruption. Other writers include Abdi Ismael Abdi, Ali Coubba, Chehem Watta, Ali Moussa Iye, and the poet and short story writer Idriss Youssouf.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are several books that have come from the Horn of Africa since the 1950s, although they are rarely mentioned even in general surveys of Francophone literatures. Therefore, the Négritude poet Léopold Sédar Senghor was right to describe Horn of African literature as marginalized in his foreword to Syad 1959, a collection of philosophical poems by a Francophone Somali writer about culture and nationalism. Syad 1978 is also a collection of poems in French and some in English about nationalism, tending to present African nationalists in mythical terms. Farah 1993 is considered the first novel in French from Djibouti and is about displacement in the city and corruption in the new nation. Robleh 2005 is an acclaimed play by a woman writer; it is about the women’s rights in the context of a clash between modern culture and African traditions. The other notable women writer, Mouna-Hodan Ahmed, is less welcoming to modern lifestyles, as seen in Ahmed 2002, a didactic novel about a carefree city girl who abandons her sinful life to embrace Islamic teachings. Most books that reference literature from North of Africa mention the work of Abdourahman Ali Waberi, one of the continent’s most talented contemporary writers. Waberi 2005 is a satirical story about poverty in a Djiboutian slum. Waberi 2009 is also a satire about migration and stereotypes about Africa. Set in Djibouti’s city of Balba, Hachi 2007 thematizes the poverty defining slum life in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ahmed, Mouna-Hodan. Les enfants du khat. Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, France: Sépia, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the few novels by a woman from the region, it is a didactic story about a reformed Muslim girl, Asli, who started off on a bad footing as a flippant nightclub-hopping girl. Now she is full of admiration for Islam and its teachings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Farah, Daher Ahmed. Splendeur éphémère. Paris: Harmattan, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Considered the first novel in French from Djibouti, the story is set in a fictional nation called Ebe. A nomadic family is forced to move to the country’s capital, Khergaba, because of a devastating drought. In the city they feel exiled from their normal lifestyle. The story depicts neocolonialism and corruption in the post-independence Djibouti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hachi, Rachid. L’Enfant de Balbala. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A novel of disillusionment about Samatalis, a character who lives in a sprawling slum in Djibouti’s second-largest city, Balbala. At least Samatalis is better off than his neighbors because he has had an education. Balbala is presented as a metonym of poverty. (Title translation: The child from Balbala.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Robleh, Aïcha Mohamed. La dévoilée: Pièce en six actes. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a six-act play about the experiences of a modern Afah woman, Heila, who, on return from France, is expected to follow disempowering traditional practices. She finds her husband, Helem, has taken their maid as a second wife. Her mother-in-law approves of that, but the judge in a divorce court sides with Heila.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Syad, William J. F. Khamsine: Poemes. Paris: Presence Africaine, 1959.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A collection of delicately written philosophical poems in English and French; they discuss nationalism, the truth, hunger, and the birth of the Somali nation. Contains a foreword by Léopold Sédar Senghor, who recognizes Syad’s poetic talents and commitment to Africa, comparing him to Tagore.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Syad, William J. F. Les naufragés du destin. Paris: Présence africaine, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This volume mixes essay and poetry. The main focus is political liberation of Africa from the perspective of a person who has not been home for a long time. Treats the themes of exile and cosmopolitanism, presenting the mythical beauty of the African continent and the legendary prowess of Somali heroes. Laments the neocolonialism of the 1960s. (Title translation: Destiny’s drowned ones.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Waberi, Abdourahman Ali. The Land without Shadows. Translated by Jeanne Garane. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of elegantly written satirical stories depicting various facets of life in North Africa, the book uses sparse prose, grim humor, collages, newspaper reports, and traditional tales to treat the themes of poverty, slum life, and identity. Originally published as Le pays sans ombre (Paris: Le Serpent à Plumes, 1994).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Waberi, Abdourahman Ali. In the United States of Africa. Translated by Nocole Ball. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a futuristic fable in which Africa turns the tables on the West. Richer and more developed than Europe and America, Africa has to offer aid to the West, which is portrayed as barbaric. Its aim seems to be to combat stereotypes about Africa. Originally published as Aux États-Unis d’Afrique (Arles, France: Actes Sud, 2008).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There have been a few essays on Horn of Africa literature in French, mainly contained in Ali Jimale Ahmed’s The Road Less Traveled: Reflections on the Literatures of the Horn of Africa (Ahmed 2008), a collection of essays on the region’s literature in French, English, and various local languages. Contained in this volume is Lilius 2008, a useful survey that introduces Djibouti authors in French who are rarely mentioned in other surveys of the literature. Also in the volume, Garane 2008 is a detailed analysis of the work of a pioneer Francophone Somali poet, William F. Syad, that criticizes his notions of nationalism. Garane 2005 is an edited volume on Francophone writing that includes comments by Abdourahman Ali Waberi. A survey of politically committed Francophone literature, Cazenave and Célérier 2011 includes a discussion of the Djibouti novelist and short story writer Abdourahman Ali Waberi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ahmed, Ali Jimale, ed. The Road Less Traveled: Reflections on the Literatures of the Horn of Africa. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An English-language book on literature from the Horn of Africa, the volume contains an essay on contradictions in the poetry of Somali Francophone writer William Syad. Another essay offers an outline of literature from Djibouti, including works written in French by Waberi, Aïcha Mohamed Robleh, Aden Farah, William Syad, and Dahar Ahmed Farah.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cazenave, Odile M., and Patricia Célérier. Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitment. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is a book evaluating the impact of political and social concerns on the aesthetics that African artists. It includes a detailed examination of the work of Abdourahman Ali Waberi, considering how he has rewritten French narratives about Djibouti and the networks in which his works are published and circulated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Garane, Garane. “Solipsism of a Tattoo Memory: The Impossible Soliloquy in William F. Syad’s Les naufragés du destin.” In The Road Less Traveled: Reflections on the Literatures of the Horn of Africa. Edited by Ali Jimale Ahmed, 55–78. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed discussion of William F. Syad’s 1978 collection of poems, it critiques the poet’s mythical presentation of African leaders who later turned brutal. The essay sees the poet’s work to be reinforcing nepotism and negative clan identity, which were the bane of Somali politics in the 1970s and 1980s. Appreciates the poet’s contradictions to be because he is caught up in irreconcilable worlds.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Garane, Jeanne, ed. Discursive geographies: writing space and place in French/Géographies discursives: L’Écriture de l’espace et du lieu en français. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of essays in English and French about Francophone literature, the book includes an essay by Waberi discussing nomadism in Djiboutian literature and an interview with Waberi on the functions and trends in literatures from the Horn of Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lilius, Suzanne. “Djibouti Connections.” In The Road Less Traveled: Reflections on the Literatures of the Horn of Africa. Edited by Ali Jimale Ahmed, 19–53. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This essay is a tour de force giving a survey of Djibouti literature. It notes the impact of France’s policies on the country and gives an overview of writing by Djibouti artists: Abdourahman Ali Waberi, Aïcha Mohamed Robleh, Aden Farah, William Syad, Dahar Ahmed Farah, Ali Moussa Iye, Ali Coubba, and Chehem Watta. Though brief, it is arguably the most important study of Djibouti literature available.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lusophone Literature

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This literature emerges from the Portuguese former colonies: Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé, and Guinea-Bissau. Although the Portuguese have the longest history of colonialism in Africa, Lusophone literature did not take roots as early as would be expected, compared to literatures in other European languages. This is probably because the early European immigrants did not consider themselves Africans, as captured in Pepetela’s novel Yaka. White writers of Portuguese origin (e.g., Pepetela and Mia Couto) dominate literary production in this region. The texts are also mainly published in Portugal. However, there are several important black writers, including the founding president of Angola, António Agostinho Neto (1922–1979), who was a fine poet and cultural theorist. The literature treats such themes as Portuguese colonialism, but the theme of memory has become recurrent in works by such authors as Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa. Since Paulina Chiziane published Balada de amor ao vento (1990), the first novel by a Mozambican woman, there have been a few important novels by women writers. These include work by Lilia Momplé, which explores neocolonialism as well as gender issues. As noted by Gerald M. Moser (Moser 1969, cited under Scholarship), scholarship on Lusophone African literature is not as developed as one would expect. However, since the 1990s, there have been important works published on this growing and diverse literature, some examining its relationship with other black literatures in the Portuguese-speaking world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Primary Texts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The best novels from Lusophone Africa include Couto 2006, a magical narrative about memory. Agualusa 2006 also explores the theme of memory in a playful novel told from the perspective of a chameleon. Pepetela 1983 explores the themes of identity and the involvement of white Angolans in the fight against Portuguese colonialism. Honwana 1969 is a collection of short stories by prominent Mozambican writers; they explore the theme of identity in the wake of Portuguese colonialism. While Neto 1974 is a single-author collection of poetry about political struggle, Dickinson 1972 is a popular anthology of protest poetry from Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. While Momplé 2001 is a novel by a woman exploring neocolonialism, Chiziane 2010 is a satirical work that critiques socialist nationalism from a female perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Agualusa, José Eduardo. The Book of Chameleons. Translated by Daniel Hahn. London: Arcadia, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A poetic narrative told from the perspective of a chameleon on the wall of his human friend and hero, Felix Ventura. It is a playful meditation on the role of memory in constructing the history and determining the future, in spite of memory’s inconsistency and randomness. First published as O vendedor de passados: romance (Lisbon, Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2004).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Chiziane, Paulina. Niketche: A Story of Polygamy. Laverstock, UK: Aflame, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A humorous story about six women who turn the tables on their philandering husbands. In a critique of socialist nationalism that smothers differing voices, including women’s perspectives, the novel uses polygamy as a metaphor for diversity and pluralism. Also available in its Portuguese original as Niketche: História de poligamia: Romance (Lisbon, Portugal: Caminho, 2002.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Couto, Mia. Sleepwalking Land. Translated by David Brookshaw. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Declared upon publication to be one of the twelve best books of 20th-century African literature, this is a novel about the Mozambican civil war. It is remarkable for its use of folkloric techniques to depict the role of memory in constructing the history of a nation. Originally published as Terra Sonâmbula (Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Caminho, 1992).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dickinson, Margaret, ed. When Bullets Begin to Flower: Poems of Resistance from Angola, Mozambique, and Guiné. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishing House, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A popular anthology in African universities, this work brings together poems of protest against colonial domination. Poems include Agostinho Neto’s poem critiquing Western civilization as well as verse by Noémia de Sousa and Mercelino dos Santos. Includes an introduction and short biographies of the poets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Honwana, Luís Bernado. We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Stories. Translated by Dorothy Guedes. London: Heinemann, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Written by one of the most well-known and fairly widely anthologized Mozambican authors, this is a collection of stories about Portuguese colonialism and the Mozambican resistance against oppression. First published as Nós matámos o cão-Tinhoso (São Paulo, Brazil: Ática, 1964)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Momplé, Lilia. Neighbours: The Story of a Murder. London: Heinemann, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A tragedy based on apartheid South Africa’s efforts to destabilize the newly independent Mozambican nation. Originally published in Portuguese under the English title Neighbours (Maputo, Mozambique: Associação dos Escritores Moçambicanos, 1995).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Neto, António Agostinho. Sacred Hope. Translated by Marga Holness. Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of poems by one of the most celebrated writers and founding president of Angola, the book includes poems about the struggle for independence, imprisonment, and exile of Angolan nationalists. Also available as Sagrada esperança: Poemas (Lisbon, Portugal: Sá da Costa, cop. 1974).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pepetela. Mayombe. Translated by Michael Wolfers. Oxford: Heinemann, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Details the conflicts that ethnic differences produced during the guerrilla fight for independence in Angola. Though written in the 1970s, it was first published after Angolan independence as Mayombe (Luanda, Angola: Edições 70, 1980).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Although not as widely studied as literatures in other European languages in Africa, there have been various publications in English and Portuguese on the rich cultural forms of expression that constitute Lusophone literature. Moser and Ferreira 1993 offers a bibliography of both primary and secondary texts, covering oral literature and creative writing from each Lusophone African country. A pioneer text, Moser 1969 discusses foundational writers like Manuel Lopes and Castro Soromenho. Hamilton 1975 is also a pioneer book that discusses such writers as Lopes and Jose Craveirinha. Burness 1981 includes discussions on more contemporary work (e.g., the poetry of combat from different Portuguese-speaking countries). Similarly, Chabal 1996 discusses contemporary work and includes a chapter on popular culture. Peres 1997 discusses contemporary Angolan writers such as Pepetela and offers a historical background on the development of Lusophone literature in Africa. Written by a leading authority in Lusophone African culture, Hamilton 1984 is a Portuguese-language discussion in two volumes explaining the dynamics of culture in various Portuguese-speaking African countries. For its part, Owen 2007 is an interesting analysis of the intersection of gender and Marxist nationalism that includes discussions of women writers like Noémia de Sousa, Lilia Momplé, and Paulina Chiziane. While reviewing and polemically critiquing pioneer critics, Afolabi 2001 examines the rhetorical strategies in writing by a wide range of contemporary authors, including Honwana and Mia Couto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Afolabi, Niyi. Golden Cage: Regeneration in Lusophone African Literature and Culture. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses Lusophone African literature in comparison with art from other regions of Africa. Considers works by Honwana, Manuel Rui, Mia Couto, and Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa. Offers a spirited critique of what it considers shortcomings of pioneer criticism of the literature, especially its emphasis on assimilation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Burness, Donald, ed. Critical Perspectives on Lusophone Literature from Africa. Washington, DC: Three Continents, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of essays offering a variety of perspectives on Lusophone African literature produced in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some are general essays, while others are grouped according to the national literature discussed. Topics include poetry of combat, apartheid, and Angolan realism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Chabal, Patrick, ed. The Post-Colonial Literature of Lusophone Africa. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a detailed history of the literature, arranged by country (Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe). Includes a detailed introduction and a chapter on oral literature and popular culture. Offers a bibliography on novels, anthologies, and criticism. Complemented by a later volume, A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa by Patrick Chabal, et al. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hamilton, Russell G. Voices from an Empire: A History of Afro-Portuguese Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A detailed volume that includes a discussion of Négritude and other movements and works by, for example, Manuel Lopes, Jose Craveirinha, and Eugenio Lisboa. Discusses texts in the context of cultural and political theories emerging from the black world (e.g., the work of Frantz Fanon). Emphasizes the influence of European culture on African writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hamilton, Russell G. Literatura Africana, literatura necessária. Lisbon, Portugal: Edições 70, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A two-volume Portuguese-language discussion of literature from Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Gives detailed historical backgrounds of each country’s literature. Considers such topics as the influence of popular music on literature. Includes a rich bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Moser, Gerald M. Essays in Portuguese-African Literature. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An early discussion of Portuguese writing in Africa, the work focuses on foundational writers. Contains a useful explanation of the origins of Portuguese writing in Africa. Examines social and regional diversity of the literature and the treatment of Africa as a theme in Lusophone African writing. Includes a chronology of Lusophone African literature before 1920, an index of authors’ names and pen names, and a short index of titles and periodicals.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Moser, Gerald M., and Manuel Ferreira. A New Bibliography of the Lusophone Literatures of Africa/Nova bibliografia das literaturas africanas de expressão portuguesa. London: H. Zell, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An updated bibliography with entries on national literatures (Angola, Cape Verde Islands, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, etc.). The book covers topics on oral literature, creative writing, and literary history, among others. It includes a sociohistorical outline of the literature and biographical notes about individual authors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Owen, Hilary. Mother Africa, Father Marx: Women’s Writing of Mozambique, 1948-2002. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A thorough discussion of the contribution women writers have made to Mozambican national literature, the book includes analyses of works by Noémia de Sousa, Lina Magaia, Lilia Momplé, and Paulina Chiziane. The book puts individual works in the context of publishing and national history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Peres, Phyllis. Transculturation and Resistance in Lusophone African Narrative. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The first critical work to devote itself to Angolan writers, it discusses work by Luandino Vieira, Pepetela, Uanhenga Xitu, and Manuel Rui among others. Includes a useful chapter on the historical context in which the literature is produced. While most works focus on pre-independence anticolonial writing, this book considers work in the post-independence era, including work published in the last decade of the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Poetry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Africa is often studied through poetry, though not at the same level on which it is studied through novels. Poetry is one of the areas in African studies where more research needs to be done, especially to explore the formal properties of African poetry. The early poets tended to imitate Western forms, with much of the Anglophone poetry in the 19th century and 20th century, for example, being in the form of hymns or hymn imitation. Since mid-1940s, African writers who use Western verse forms have changed it to offer a uniquely African sensibility. Even poets who used modernist Western forms in the 1960s (e.g., Wole Soyinka and Christopher Okigbo), they changed their verse to express African experiences. A distinguishing characteristic of African poetry is its use of traditional oral literary techniques, a good example of these being Okot p’Bitek, whose “songs” read like transcriptions of oral poetry. Senghor, one of the most reputed African poets, published his first collection in 1948. His poems, those of other poets in the Négritude movement, valorized African values. The poets analyzed colonialism and envisioned Africa free from foreign domination. The trend of militant poetry against minority white rule went on until the collapse of apartheid in the 1990s. Poets in the 1960s became trenchantly critical of the newly independent nations, criticizing neocolonialism and corruption. Works in this group include poetry by Jared Angira, Micere Githae-Mugo, and Henry Barlow. The Biafra conflict in Nigeria (1967–1970) also inspired a rich body of poetry. Further, poets who have been imprisoned by their states (e.g., Wole Soyinka and Jack Mapanje) have written volumes of poetry on their experiences in confinement. The major African poets through whom the continent is studied include Senghor, J. P. Clark, Soyinka, Okigbo, Lenrie Peters, Gabriel Okara, Agostinho Neto, Dennis Brutus, Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, and Okot p’Bitek. All the major poets have single-authored collections, while others are included in anthologies. Because of the marginalization of women poets, there have been collections that offer poetry by female writers only since the 1980s. Women poets include Alda do Espírito Santo, Noémia de Sousa, Gcina Mhlophe, and Ifi Amadiume. Their themes vary from national liberation to environmental degradation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are several single-author books of poetry to which critics often refer in their study of African society and aesthetics. Composed in Acholi language in the 1940s and first published in 1966, P’Bitek 1984 established what has come to be known as the “song” school of poetry. It is a simple long narrative poem that is rich in images and expressions borrowed from Acholi oral literature. Soyinka 1972 is not as lighthearted as Okot’s songs, as it presents the experiences of its author in prison. The single-author volumes include works by Okigbo, Senghor, Dennis Brutus, Tchicaya U Tam’Si, and Breyten Breytenbach. Poetry is mainly read in schools. Targeting students and teachers, publishers have put together selective anthologies that cover a region or the whole continent. Soyinka 1975 is one of the early collections that rejected the priority of the nation-state by arranging the works thematically. First published in 1976, Senanu and Vincent 1988 includes revision questions. Poetry is translated into the main official languages, so that Francophone and Lusophone poetry will often find space in Anglophone anthologies and vice versa. For example, Nkashama and Magnier 1986 is a French-language collection that includes translations from English. Okpewho 1985 includes oral poetry to emphasize the interface between oral and written traditions in modern African poetry. Chipasula and Chipasula 1995 offers poetry by women artists. While poetry scholarship might give the impression that African poets duel only on grand nationalist themes and protest against colonialism, Chipasula 2009 presents love poems even by recognizably politically engaged African writers (e.g., Senghor and Agostinho Neto), majority of whose poems are about colonialism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Chipasula, Frank, ed. Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Includes anonymously written poems from ancient Egypt as well as modern poetry from different countries. Oral poetry included in English translation. Major poets in the collection include Senghor, Agostinho Neto, Gabriel Okara, Antonio Jacinto, Daniel P. Kunene, Shaaban Robert, and David Rubadiri. The introduction offers a broad overview of African poetic production.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Chipasula, Stella, and Frank Chipasula, eds. The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry. Oxford: Heinemann, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a collection of 214 poems by over forty women writers from different parts of Africa. Includes work by the classical writer Queen Hatshepsut (1479–1457 BC), an Egyptian female pharaoh, as well as modern writers: Malika O’Lahsen (Algeria), Malakʾ Abd al-Aziz (Egypt), and Ifi Amadiume (Nigeria). The introduction discusses the central themes in the poems and techniques used.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nkashama, Pius Ngandu, and Bernard Magnier, eds. L’Afrique noire en poésie. Paris: Gallimard, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A collection poems mainly from Francophone Africa, it includes translations of some Anglophone poets and African diaspora poets (e.g., Aimé Césaire and Édouard Glissant). Useful introduction and short biographies of the poets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Okpewho, Isidore, ed. The Heritage of African Poetry: An Anthology of Oral and Written Poetry. Burnt Mill, UK: Longman, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One hundred thematically arranged poems. Topics include love, praise, environment, war, and death. Oral poetry included. Introduction gives an overview on the development of modern African poetry and the relationship between it and traditional oral poetry. Includes biographical notes on the poets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • P’Bitek, Okot. Song of Lawino and, Song of Ocol. London: Heinmann, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The most influential book of poetry from East Africa, Song of Lawino (1966) is a long verse spoken from the perspective of Lawino, a traditional African woman, criticizing the ways of her modern husband, Ocol. Composed in Acholi as Wer pa Lawino. For its part, Song of Ocol is her husband’s response her. Useful introduction by G. A. Heron.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Senanu, K. E., and T. Vincent. A Selection of African Poetry. Burnt Mill, UK: Longman, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Notable in this selection is its diversity, as it includes work from Lusophone Africa and highlights poems from Liberia besides including transcribed oral poetry. Targeting schools, the book contains notes explaining unfamiliar lines, commentary after each poem, and revision questions. Introduction gives an overview of African poetry. First published in 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Soyinka, Wole. A Shuttle in the Crypt. London: Rex Collings, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A collection of meditative poems reflecting on Soyinka’s twenty-five-month incarceration in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Expresses bitterness at the abuse of human rights and structural and material violence in Nigeria. Captures the poet’s confusion and mental anguish in abstract images and choppy lines.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Soyinka, Wole, ed. Poems of Black Africa. London: Secker and Warburg, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thematically arranged collection of poems covering such issues as alienation, religion and faith, race consciousness, and nature. Major poets includes are Senghor, Soyinka, Rabearivelo, Lenrie Peters, Angira, Nortje, Tchicaya U Tam’Si, and Agostniho Neto. Editor’s introduction discusses briefly the themes and techniques in the most outstanding poems in the collection.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good studies of African poetry are few and far between. Most of the notable studies of African poetry started coming out in the 1970s. While appreciating the use of oral literature and deviations from Western standards, early analyses, such as Goodwin 1982, tended to emphasize echoes of Western writing in African texts. Haynes 1987 takes a controversial position by arguing that African poets can express their world using English language, a stance already criticized in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s book Decolonising the Mind (Ngũgĩ 1986, cited under Literature in African Languages: Scholarship). Haynes seems to see African poetry as an extension of Western writing. Slightly moving away from this tendency among expatriate scholars, Egudu 1977 and Egudu 1978 are critical of writers who do not make use of African oral traditions, arguing that African poetry responds to the predicaments in society. Ojaide 1996 takes a mildly Afrocentric position and argues that African poetry is completely different from Western art. Written by a critic who dismissed expatriates who presented themselves as experts of African poetry after only a brief encounter with it, Fraser 1986 is a useful reading of modern Anglophone and Francophone poetry against the background of vernacular oral poetry. For its part, Ngara 1990 attempts stylistic analysis that is Marxist-oriented; the result is a largely sociological book in which little study of formal properties of poetry are studied. Njogu 2004 does a better job in the analysis of language in Kikuyu and Kiswahili poetry using a Bakhtinian approach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Egudu, Romanus N., Four Modern West African Poets. New York: NOK Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Arguing that the content and form of African poetry are determined by the predicaments taking place in the real African world, the writer analyzes poetry by Kofi Awoonor, Lenrie Peters, Christopher Okigbo, and John Pepper Clark. The book considers the poet’s use of myths and oral traditions. The author criticizes poetry by Awoonor for ostensibly not drawing enough from oral traditions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Egudu, Romanus N. Modern African Poetry and the African Predicament. London: Macmillan, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A pioneer text on reading African literature, the book discusses African poetry in the context of political conditions in the regions from where it was written. The author claims that poetry is given impetus by the political predicaments in Africa as result of colonialism and neocolonialism. The chapters analyze images of colonialism, Négritude poetry, responses to apartheid, attitude toward the Nigerian civil war (1967–1970), and poetic presentation of the socioeconomic disparities in East Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Fraser, Robert. West African Poetry: A Critical History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A useful historical analysis of African poetry, the book reads West African Anglophone and Francophone poetry in the context of oral and vernacular poetry. It debates whether the poetry is rooted in African traditions or in Western modernity. Discusses techniques and form and literary movements (e.g., Négritude). The poetry is put in the context of the ethnic community it emerges from.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Goodwin, Ken. Understanding African Poetry: A Study of Ten Poets. London: Heinemann, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an attempt to give an overview of African poetry by discussing works by ten poets: Dennis Brutus, Christopher Okigbo, Lenrie Peters, John Pepper Clark, Taban lo Liyong, Kofi Awoonor, Wole Soyinka, Gabriel Okara, Okot p’Bitek, Mazisi Kunene. Written by an Australian who had not lived in Africa long enough, the book has been criticized for its superficiality and patronizing tone.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Haynes, John. African Poetry and the English Language. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Education, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The book analyzes modernist tendencies in Anglophone African poets, drawing examples from Soyinka, Okigbo, and Okot p’Bitek, among others. The book takes the controversial position that Africans can express their environment and experiences using English. The book has been criticized for seeming to promote a Eurocentric agenda. Include a glossary of linguistic terms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ngara, Emmanuel. Ideology and Form in African Poetry: Implications for Communication. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A largely Marxist analysis of African poetry, the book attempts to study the formal properties in the work of some of the most well-known African poets: Okigbo, Okara, p’Bitek, Mazisi Kunene, Soyinka. It opens with a discussion of the merits of Marxist analysis. Examines South African liberation poetry. Emphasis seems to be more on sociological imperatives than on poetic form.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Njogu, Kimani. Reading Poetry as Dialogue: An East African Literary Tradition. Nairobi, Kenya: Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An analysis of Kenyan poetry, mainly in Kikuyu and Kiswahili, the book applies Bakhtin’s theory of dialogic discourse to study the contestations of power as signaled in the poetry. The introduction offers a discussion and critique of Bakhtin’s applicability in readings of African poetry. Reads the poetry of Abdilatif Abdalla, Abdallah Sayyid, Al Amin Mazrui, Said Ahmed Mohamed, among others. Reads oral poetry in Kikuyu.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ojaide, Tanure. Poetic Imagination in Black Africa. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of ten essays by a leading African poet discussing African poetic art, it insists that African art is different from Western forms. He says that the poetry is utilitarian, as it is used to impart ethical and moral values while promoting social cohesion. Draws examples from works by Niyi Osundare, Christopher Okigbo, and J. P. Clark, among others. Considers African American poetry as a branch of African literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Drama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Drama is an important part of African literature. With its roots in oral traditions and rituals, it has served as window on the community from which it develops. Drama in indigenous languages is popular, especially among the general populace, a high percentage of which does not know how to read and cannot comprehend European languages. Some of the modern plays (e.g., Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s early dramas) were written for college and school competition. This tradition that began as early as the 1920s continued into the 21st century in most parts of Anglophone Africa. When they began, the school dramas were not popular because they tended to be elitist. In the late 1940s, popular theater picked up. For example, Yoruba artists (e.g., Kola Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Hubert Ogunde) developed a form of indigenous opera that has been the subject of many commentaries on African drama as a means of understanding the society. Wole Soyinka is the most well-known sub-Saharan playwright. His works, which range from comedies to tragedies, draw on Yoruba cosmology even when they allude to classical European traditions. Athol Fugard from South Africa is regarded as the most innovative dramatist, using techniques of the absurd theater to address the constricting atmosphere that apartheid breeds. Similar techniques are used by a wide range of African dramatists, including Ola Rotimi, John Ruganda, Robert Serumaga, and Francis Imbuga. Scholars have also discussed theater from the Francophone world, examining various genres (e.g., the humorous plays of Guy Menga and the village dramas of Guillaume Oyono-Mbia). The main themes of African drama include slavery as seen in works by Ama Ata Aidoo, Tchicaya U Tam’Si, Syl Cheney Coker, and Bode Sowande. There have also been devastating satires about corruption and abuse office by many writers across the continent (e.g., Soyinka, Imbuga, Ngũgĩ, and U Tam’Si). A prominent characteristic in most African drama is its use of oral literature, fusing song and dance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are many plays that are taught in African schools or performed for the general public. The collected early work by an African virtuoso, Soyinka 1973–1974 offers a good picture of the evolution of this talented artist. Fugard 1991 is a collection of three plays, all composed in the 1960s, by a most respected South African theater personality who has been influential across Africa. Fugard’s appropriation of elements of theater of the absurd has influenced a host of African dramatists, including John Ruganda, whose work Ruganda 1988 is an experimental drama that captures the paranoia pervading an unnamed African nation after mass killing by a megalomaniac despot. Liking 1979 is a ritual drama that also suggests the possibilities of women’s liberation. Aidoo 1985 is a volume of two plays about African and African American relations and slavery. Onwueme 1997 is a critique of elite women’s approach to gender issues. There are various edited volumes of plays. Pieterse is a collection of ten short plays, including one by Fugard. Jeyifo 2002 is a useful collection that includes background materials on the individual plays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Aidoo, Ama Ata. The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa: Two Plays. Harlow: Longman, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The volume brings together the two plays by Aidoo. The Dilemma of a Ghost is about a Ghanaian, Ato Yawson, who goes to the United States for further studies and returns home with an African American wife, Eulalie, who does not fit into the African life. For its part, Anowa (1970) draws on folktales to comment on African attitudes on marriage and to allude to transatlantic slave trade in West Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Fugard, Athol. Blood Knot and Other Plays. New York: Theatre Communications, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A collection of three “Port Elizabeth” plays by South Africa’s most respected dramatist: Blood Knot (1963), Boesman and Lena (1970), and Hello and Goodbye (1965). Applying aspects of absurdist theater to show the irrationality of apartheid, the plays focus on how racial and economic policies of discrimination affect family relations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Jeyifo, Biodun, ed. Modern African Drama: Backgrounds and Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A useful collection of eight plays from West Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and East Africa, the book presents the most sophisticated works by Kateb Yacine, Wole Soyinka, Athol Fugard, Femi Osofisan, and Ama Ata Aidoo. Includes reprints of essays on African theater and culture in general as well as commentary on individual plays in the volume.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Liking, Werewere. La puissance d’Un. Dakar, Senegal: CEDA, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A ritualistic play by the leading Francophone African female writer, the work is about the death of a community elder, which offers an opportunity for self-critique and regeneration among the living. As the society does not consider any death to be natural, it goes through ritualistic recrimination and counter-accusations over the elder’s death. Involves song and dance and enacts the quest for women’s liberation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Onwueme, Osonye Tess. Tell It to Women. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A play by one of the leading contemporary African female dramatists, it is a critique of elite African women who adopt Western values and try to impose them on rural women. The plot revolves around the conflict between most respected village woman, Yemoja, and two elite women: Ruth, a feminist scholar, and Daisy, a government official. Foreword by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. First published in 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pieterse, Cosmo. Ten One-Act Plays. London: Heinemann Educational, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of short plays by writers from different countries and racial backgrounds, the book includes “The Occupation” by Athol Fugard, a play about dereliction and the damage of war on individuals who take part in armed combat. The introduction offers an overview of African dramatic works and theorizes the reasons behind the paucity of drama in the 1960s. Book includes short discussions of each play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ruganda, John. The Floods. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Educational, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a play set in a fictional African nation that resembles Idi Amin’s Uganda in the 1970s. It dramatizes the paranoia from mass killings by a dictatorial regime. The themes include violence, megalomania, and intellectual hypocrisy. The play uses aspects of the theater of the absurd, gallows humor, and play-within-a-play technique to dramatize the irrationality of the regime.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Soyinka, Wole. Collected Plays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973–1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is a two-volume collection of plays by sub-Saharan Africa’s most respected playwright. It brings together ten plays that display Soyinka’s evolution as a dramatist and the breath of his interests and stylistic choices. The plays present the themes of the clash between modernity and traditions, Yoruba culture, and disillusionment with modern Nigeria, among other concerns.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Scholarship

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are several good studies of African theater. While Conteh-Morgan 2006 offers an easy-to-follow account of Francophone African theater, Conteh-Morgan and Olaniyan 2004 is an edited volume of essays on issues ranging from adapting Macbeth to Ngũgĩ’s popular theater. Losambe and Sarinjeive 2001 is an edited volume that covers theater from the precolonial times and critiques Western critics who have argued that precolonial Africa did not have elements of theater. Etherton 1982 presents the contexts in which African drama has developed, comparing it with Western forms of dramatic self-expression. Barber 2000 would serve as a good model for fieldwork-based study of African drama in the way it contextualizes Yoruba theater as non-elitist. For its part, Migraine-George 2008 is a welcome text that devotes itself to a study of women’s plays, while Box 2005 studies modes of resistance in women’s theater from North Africa. Banham 2004 is an invaluable edited volume that collects essays by eminent scholars of African theater and drama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Banham, Martin. A History of Theatre in Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of close to twenty essays by eminent scholars of African theater and drama, the book opens with a discussion of the concepts of history and theater in Africa before examining theater and dramatic traditions in different countries of the continent. Although most of the countries represented are Anglophone, the book has substantive discussions on Francophone theater. The last chapter considers African drama in the diaspora.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Barber, Karin. The Generation of Plays: Yoruba Popular Life in Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A detailed model study of African-language drama, this book analyzes an exuberant popular dramatic form that developed between the 1940s and the 1980s in Nigeria, giving rise to three major dramatists: Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, and Oyin Adejobi. The book focuses on Adejobi’s drama, arguing that the theater illuminates colonial and post-independence developments in Nigeria. Offers synopses of the major plays under discussion and generous Yoruba-language excerpts from the plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Box, Laura Chakravarty. Strategies of Resistance in the Dramatic Texts of North African Women. New York: Routledge, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Though based on research concluded in 1997, this is a wide-ranging discussion of women’s theater that considers it historically and in the context of such contemporary events as post-911 terrorism. The book surveys plays by women and discusses methodological problems besides examining the main themes and genres in women’s resistance theater. Has an appendix containing a list of the main plays, biographies of theater personalities, and glossary of terms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Conteh-Morgan, John. Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa: A Critical Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an introductory discussion of Francophone drama that starts by putting it in the context of precolonial performance. It covers the themes in the drama and discusses individual works by a wide range of dramatists: Werewere Liking, Aime Cesaire, Bernard Dadie, Cheik Ndao, Tchicaya U Tam’Si, and Guillaume Oyono-Mbia, among others. Seems to assume no prior knowledge of the plays under discussion. First published in 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Conteh-Morgan, John, and Tejumola Olaniyan, eds. African Drama and Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An authoritative collection of eighteen essays discussing different dimensions of African theater, the book includes a contribution by Wole Soyinka on contemporary theater and politics. Topics include the adaptation of Macbeth, Soyinka’s satire and his rewriting of Greek tragedies, history and African theater, Ngũgĩ’s popular theater, and Sony Labou Tansi’s plays and politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Etherton, Michael. The Development of African Drama. London: Hutchinson, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An accessible examination of the contexts in which African drama has evolved. Considers the relationship between African drama and Western forms and tensions between writers and governments. Critiques the use of traditional African theater to cater to the bourgeois elites and how conservative traditions are sometimes presented as radical. Central to the discussion is work by Fugard, Yulisa Maddy, Kasoma Kabwe, Ebrahim Hussein, and Soyinka, among other key names in African drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Losambe, Lokangaka, and Devi Sarinjeive, eds. Pre-Colonial and Post-Colonial Drama and Theatre in Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A unique collection of twelve essays on drama, the book carries articles on precolonial African theater as well as a meta-theoretical commentary on issues in modern theater criticism in African studies. Topics include satire and African heritage, myths and epics in modern drama, ritual theater, and gender politics in African drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Migraine-George, Thérèse. African Women and Representation: From Performance to Politics. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses plays by women from an interdisciplinary perspective. Critiques the distinction of popular theater from scripted plays. Opening chapter outlines the marginalization of women’s contribution to African theater. Examines work by Ama Ata Aidoo, Tess Onwueme, Zulu Sofola, and Were Liking, among others. Appendix contains interviews with Tess Onwueme talking about developments in African drama and theater.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Literary Theory and Criticism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Since the 1960s, writers and critics have commented on the nature and function of African literature. Achebe 1975 is a collection of essays discussing such issues as the commitment of African writers to political causes. Ngũgĩ 1981 argues that all writers participate in politics, even if they are sometimes not aware of it. Soyinka 1993 is a collection of essays in which the author responds to arguments about such theories as Marxism and structuralism. Killam 1973 brings together essays and articles that discuss the sociopolitical nature of African writing and the literature’s relationship to literatures from other regions of the world. Criticizing writers it views as aligned with Western modernist aesthetics as opposed to African traditions, Chinweizu, et al. 1983 is a feisty work discussing the primary responsibility of African writers. Gugelberger 1986 includes essays by materialist theorists of African literatures. First published in 1991, Ndebele 1994 discusses the pitfalls of activist writing in the post-apartheid era. While most texts discuss a single theory, Olaniyan and Quayson 2007 is arguably the most representative text in this area because it brings together essays and excerpts discussing African literature from a variety of theories, including feminism, ecocriticism, and queer theory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Achebe, Chinua. Morning Yet on Creation Day: Essays. London: Heinemann, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A volume of fifteen essays and lectures. Includes the famous essay criticizing Conrad as a “bloody racist.” Has essays discussing the role of English language in Africa and why writers should be actively involved in politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, and Ihechukwu Madubuike. Toward the Decolonization of African Literature. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a polemical critique of African writers (e.g., Wole Soyinka and early Okigbo), whom the critics view as advancing Western modernist aesthetics. By contrast, the book praises Achebe and p’Bitek for being faithful to African indigenous expressive forms. Criticized by advocates of cosmopolitanism (e.g., Kwame Anthony Appiah in In My Father’s House) for its “nativism.” Popular in African universities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Gugelberger, Georg M., ed. Marxism and African Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Includes materialist criticism of different genres and authors. Contributors include Omafume F. Onoge, Biodun Jeyifo, and Grant Kamenju. Essays emphasize that all artistic production and literary criticism should be politically inspired.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Killam, G. D. African Writers on African Writing. Evanston: Northwetsern University Press, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A collection of essays and articles by African writers on African literature, the volume contains comments by Achebe, Camara Laye, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Gabriel Okara, and Nadine Gordimer. The writers severally emphasize the functional nature of African literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ndebele, Njabulo S. South African Literature and Culture: Rediscovery of the Ordinary. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a collection of essays discussing, among other topics, the relevance of protest literature in post-apartheid South Africa. It revisits the question of language and realism in African literature and discusses the role of corporations in South African cultures. First published in 1991 as Rediscovery of the Ordinary: Essays on South African Literature and Culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Writers in Politics. Essays. London: Heinemann, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of Marxist-leaning essays discussing literature and society and the role of politics in African literature, it draws on Fanon, Cabral, and Aime Cesaire. Includes critiques of not only Western writers like Joyce Cary and Joseph Conrad but the neocolonial curriculum used in African schools. Revised in 1997 to include new materials and to tone down its dismissive attitude toward African American authors who seemingly do not espouse radical political stances.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Olaniyan, Tejumola, and Ato Quayson. African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A representative collection of essays and excerpts on the nature and functions of African literature, the book covers the sociology and history of literature and the various approaches used to study it (e.g., formalism, ecocriticism, and Marxism).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Soyinka, Wole. Art, Dialogue and Outrage: Essays on Literature and Culture. New York: Pantheon, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of essays and lectures on theories of literature and theater. Includes commentary on the appropriate language for African literature, the role of activist politics in African writing, and some rebuttals to theorists who have criticized Soyinka’s politics and aesthetics. Originally compiled in 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Modernism and African Letters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of special theoretical interest has been the presence of experimental modernism in African writing. This has led to studies on the relationship between anti-representational aesthetics and African literature. Favoring realism and African traditional storytelling techniques, Chinweizu, et al. 1983 is a polemical work that dismisses African writers that deploy what the book considers to be slavish imitation of Western high modernist aesthetics. Ker 1997 compares African writers with exemplars of high modernism like Faulkner and Joyce. For its part, Quayson 2004 reads the echoes of modernist writing in African art, while George 2003 examines Euro-American theories of modernity in the context of African letters. Attwell 2006 focuses on modernism in black South African writing but includes white writers (e.g., Coetzee) in its analysis of the region’s literary history. Helgesson 2009 is one of the texts that consider the circulation of modernist writing in South African Anglophone and Lusophone literatures. Gikandi 2012 uses examples from foundational African novels to point out the porous boundaries between traditional aesthetic categories (e.g., modernism/realism and realism/romance) in the composition of African texts. Brown 2005 is an ambitious book that examines the impact of modernism on African writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Attwell, David. Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Using South African writing, the book is an erudite analysis of experimental works by Zakes Mda, Lewis Nkosi, Coetzee, and Ndebele as well as earlier writing on modernity by 19th-century authors like Tiyo Soga. It considers literary movements in South Africa (e.g., Black Consciousness) as well as periods (e.g., the post-apartheid condition). Elegantly written and meticulously researched.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Brown, Nicholas. Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An ambitious book that discusses the modernist qualities in African literature, it uses texts by Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Pepetela, Chinua Achebe, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, among others, in comparison with world modernist texts by authors (e.g., James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, and Ford Madox Ford). Discusses some of the works in African-language translations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, and Ihechukwu Madubuike. Toward the Decolonization of African Literature. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Arguably the most notorious polemical critique of African writers, it dismisses writers it perceives to be imitating by Western modernism (e.g., Wole Soyinka and early Christopher Okigbo). But it uses T. S. Eliot to support faithfulness to tradition and local context. The critics praise Achebe and p’Bitek for being faithful to African indigenous expressive forms. Though criticized for “nativism” by Western-based postcolonial critics, the book is popular in African universities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • George, Olakunle. Relocating Agency: Modernity and African Letters. Albany: State University of New York Press 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A sustained discussion of modern Euro-American theory in the context of African literature, the book analyzes works by Achebe, Tutuola, Fagunwa, and Achebe. The critic uses Althusser, Gramsci, Adorno, and Habermas. The book requires a good grounding in critical theory and West African literature for one to be able to make use of it well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gikandi, Simon. “Realism, Romance, and the Problem of African Literary History.” Modern Languages Quarterly 73.3 (2012): 309–328.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This essay discusses the deployment of European forms, such as modernism, realism, and romance, in foundational African texts. Writers examined include Thomas Mofolo, Sol Plaatje, and Chinua Achebe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Helgesson, Stefan. Transnationalism in Southern African Literature: Modernists, Realists, and the Inequality of Print Culture. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An analysis of the history of literary production in southern Africa, the book includes discussion of such institutions as Drum magazine, modernism, and the Nobel Prize as factors in the production and circulation of texts. Including Lusophone and well and Anglophone writers, the volume covers the works of such authors as Eugenio Lisboa (Mozambique), Es’kia Mphalele, Nadine Gordimer, and Castro Soromenho.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ker, David I. The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An eloquent analysis of the relationship between modernism and African literature discusses African writers such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Kofi Awoonor, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Ayi Kwei Armah, and Gabriel Okara in comparison with Western modernist authors such as Henry James, James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Quayson, Ato. “Modernism and Postmodernism in African Literature.” In The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Edited by Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, 824–852. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The short essay discusses how African writers (e.g., Athol Fugard, Yvonne Vera, Chinua Achebe) repurpose ideas and techniques in modernist writing, (e.g., Yeats, Pound, and T. S. Eliot).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Since the 1980s, critics have been attentive to the representations of gender issues in African literature. Stratton 1994 is a seminal work that applies feminist approaches in its reading of African fiction by both male and female writers. If essayists in Nnaemeka 1997 apply feminist approaches in the study of mainly African women’s work, Nfah-Abbenyi 1997 draws on feminist theories but it also represents works by African critics that are critical of Western feminists’ approach to gender issues in Africa. Similarly, Oyěwùmí 1997 seems to regard mainstream gender analyses in Africa as an imposition by Eurocentric scholars on Yoruba society, in which, according to the author, sex was not as important as age in governing social relations. Other critics, such as in Andrade 2011 and Owen 2007, examine women’s writing in relation to nationalist politics. The 21st century has also witnessed several works that use the queer theory to read African texts. These works include Hoad 2006, which examines the representation of homosexual relations, especially in South African literature. Stobie 2007 is a reading on the treatment of bisexuality as a cultural sign in South African texts especially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Andrade, Susan Z. The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms, 1958–1988. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A comprehensive study of foundational male and female writers, the book examines novels by such post-independence African writers as Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta, Sembène Ousmane, Mariama Bâ, and Aminata Sow Fall. It studies Bildungsromans by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nuruddin Farah, and Assia Djebar, tracing the dialogue between the artists in their representation of public and private spaces.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hoad, Neville. African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It examines presentations of homosexuality in Africa, especially in South African historical and political narratives. Includes analyses of authors whose works depict homosexual relationships (e.g., Phaswane Mpe and K. Sello Duiker), Devotes considerable space to discussion of homosexuality among the Baganda of Uganda.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nfah-Abbenyi, Juliana Makuchi. Gendering African Women’s Writing: Identity, Sexuality, and Difference. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An influential critique of both African and Western approaches to literature, the book includes analyses of works by established women writers such as Buchi Emecheta, Mariama Bâ, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Bessie Head, as well as new feminist writing by Werewere Liking, Calixthe Beyala, and Delphine Zanga Tsogo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nnaemeka, Obioma, ed. The Politics of (M)Othering: Womanhood, Identity, and Resistance in African Literature. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A collection of critical essays analyzing the gender issues in works by male and female authors (e.g., Chinua Achebe, Rebeka Njau, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Mariama Bâ). Some essays focus on the ambiguities of the figure of the mother as a source of wisdom and resistance. The volume assumes a good grounding in feminist theory and African literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Owen, Hilary. Mother Africa, Father Marx: Women’s Writing of Mozambique, 1948–2002. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A thorough discussion of the contribution that women writers have made to Mozambican national literature, the book includes analyses of works by Noémia de Sousa, Lina Magaia, Lilia Momplé, and Paulina Chiziane. The book puts individual works in the context of publishing and national history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Oyěwùmí, Oyèrónké. The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A lucid critique of Western theories of gender as applied in the study of African culture. Arguing that Western theories are inaccurate, the author observes that Western scholars of gender have constructed an image of African women to fit their stereotypes of African people.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Stobie, Cheryl. Somewhere in the Double Rainbow: Representations of Bisexuality in Post-Apartheid Novels. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The author explores South African works published since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994 to establish her argument that bisexuality is a distinct category of identity from other expressions of gayness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Stratton, Florence. Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender. London: Routledge, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An energetic critique of patriarchal narratives by foundational African writers, the book is also an appreciation of female authors (e.g., Grace Ogot, Flora Nwapa, Mariama Bâ, Flora Nwapa, and Buchi Emecheta). Discusses how nationalist male writers fail to confront African and European sexism and how women writers engage their male counterparts. Appreciates changes in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s and Chinua Achebe’s positions on gender in their later fictions.

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