Emergence of African Fiction

Emergence of African Fiction

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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 142.24 x 203.2 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • INDIANA UNIV PR
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1map
  • 0253319455
  • 9780253319456

Review Text

Because, in Larson's circumspect phrasing, "a number of aspects of the Western novel which have been identified in the last three hundred years are often noticeably absent in African fiction," the African novel abroad has been passed like a charity child between critics and anthropologists, neither of which were quite prepared to accommodate it. It has been praised and damned both, Larson says, for the wrong reasons on the tacit assumption that its nonconformity to the European model would vanish with "maturity." He assumes to the contrary that a native aesthetic is being pursued through a derived form which is altered accordingly. This is not a matter of new uses and emphases (as is the case with much new Afro-American writing; see Williams below) but a different order of composition that posits its own "unities" and achieves them by, to us, innovative means. His demonstration involves close examination of representative works as varied as Achebe's "archetypal" Things Fall Apart (which illustrates salient features of conception and structure), Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drunkard (indigenous surrealism), and Nigerian pulp fiction (the sudden urbanization of an oral tradition). Most are in English although the French-writing Camara Laye is introduced as a point of reference and language is generally accepted simply as a historical expedient. Throughout Larson respects the authors' intentions and allows the material to recommend itself - a stance that minimizes cultural bias and permits, here at least, an exemplary calibre of criticism. While the procedures are rather scholarly the style is not and the non-academic relevance is self-evident. This exposition goes far beyond the usual dutiful level of cultural exchange, however. It will be invaluable as introduction or reintroduction, and is likely to stand as a keystone to subsequent discussion. With notes and an annotated bibliography indicating, among other things, classroom suitability. (Kirkus Reviews)show more