The African novel: extroverted or postcolonial.

In this analysis we will try to discuss the nature of the African novel. In fact, it is not at all a discussion per se, but a re-canalization of a long debate. When we deal with the African novel the common trope seems to be that we have a replication of a western form of literary expression with local colors, and often times this claim turns into insults when the need of African native writers for a western validation suggesting also a quest for a sort of marketability is hinted. So the old question seems to remain unanswered, is there such a thing as an African novel? Our answer being positive, we will explain why there is so much suspicion around this genre in Africa, which is nothing else than a lack of understanding of its postcolonial nature. We have chosen Things Fall apart as a case of study for its position as an early writing and for its authority as a cannon. For such an apology to hold ground we will have revisit the same cliché that have for so long worked against the African novel: the role of female (African being posited as that feminine realm) and the “unafricanness” of the novel as a genre in opposition to orality which is supposedly purely or simply more African. We will, therefore, render the African novel its intrinsic authority as a purely postcolonial product and production; and this is its true identity. The novel in Africa is neither an appendix nor extroverted, and the best appellation should be The Postcolonial African Novel.


About sdiouf

Ph.D student in Comparative Literature.
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