By Evan Maina Mwangi
Explores the metafictional recommendations of latest African novels instead of characterizing them basically as a reaction to colonialism.
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Additional info for Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality
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. Despite its veneer of the celebration of resistance, the writing back orthodoxy is a mockery of claims to agency in African cultural production. I focus on metafictional texts because they resist the traditional boundaries between criticism and creative writing, picking up the raging critical debates to comment on or thematize their own compositional mechanics.
A case in point here is Maillu’s dramatic poems such as The Kommon Man (1975), After 4:30 (1974), and My Dear Bottle (1973a), which, though quasi-nationalistic, are more focused on mundane issues such as prostitution, crime, and drunkenness. The novels of disillusionment were accompanied by narratives of urban culture in which the writers, while not nostalgic about rural life, presented the challenges of the city, such as rising crime rates and slum life. The contrast between the city and the village was emphasized, with the writers drawing attention to the characters’ acceptance of their uprootment from their rural origins.
Their position was not then founded on remonstrance against Western aesthetics but on a drive to make the syllabus more diverse, inclusive, and less Eurocentric. With political decolonization in the 1960s and the consequent anticipated demand for local voices on the cultural and literary scene, publishers had to change their publication priorities. Metropolitan publishers operating in the African markets realized immediately that it would only be a matter of time before the call for the replacement of European colonial literature with an African canon reached a crescendo.
Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality by Evan Maina Mwangi