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

By Evan Maina Mwangi

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

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While Jameson seems to be holding up the “Third World” writer’s engagement in politics as a good example for the supposedly genteel and politics-averse Western artists and critics, he suggests that the writers deliberately occlude Western readers through the use of ideal readers that would be in radical variance with them. The ideal audience for Jameson’s essay comprises Western theorists who collectively feel their (Western) canon is being written back to by an insular anti-Western literature.

What emerges from Ngu˜gı˜’s argument is the suggestion that we should pay attention to the extratextual forces that influence the literature or, to use Fredric Jameson’s famous phrase in The Political Unconscious (1981), to “always historicize” textual strategies in a work of art. Therefore, I follow the example set by Ato Quayson, Olakunle George, Deepika Bahri, Wilson-Tagoe, and Simon Gikandi in their various readings of postcolonial literatures in a way that focuses on form without ignoring the sociological facts circumscribing the production, circulation, and consumption of the literatures.

1975, xii) By “black Africa,” Soyinka does not mean an identitarian category founded on skin pigmentation. Y. Mudimbe (1988) has eloquently done, colonial inventions that failed to take into account that sub-Saharan Africa “is still a very large continent, populated by myriad races and cultures” (Soyinka 1975, 97). Throughout this book, I use Africa as a geographical space, not as a single racial category. Following Soyinka’s skepticism toward authenticity and essentialism, involving the occlusion of a supposed opposite of Africa, I see the orthodox of “writing back to Europe” as a marginalizing gesture that ignores the African peoples’ attempts to dialogue with one another.

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