Chinua Achebe has long been regarded as Africa's foremost writer. In this major new study, Jago Morrison offers a comprehensive reassessment of his work as an author, broadcaster, editor and political thinker. With new, historically contextualised readings of all of his major works, this is the first study to view Achebe's oeuvre in its entirety, from Things Fall Apart and the early novels, through the revolutionary Ahiara Declaration – previously attributed to Emeka Ojukwu – to the revealing final works The Education of a British Educated Child and There Was a Country. Contesting previous interpretations which align Achebe too easily with this or that nationalist programme, the book reveals Achebe as a much more troubled figure than critics have habitually assumed. Authoritative and wide-ranging, this book will be essential reading for scholars and students of Achebe's work in the Twenty-First Century.
Peter Carey's fictions explore the experiences lurking in the cracks of normality, and are inhabited by hybrid characters living in between spaces or on the margins. Carey took a circuitous route into literature and writing. Characterising Carey's stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. In Carey stories, terminal societies trap characters in drive-in movie car parks, or offer the bizarre possibility of exchanging bodies, or generate a counter-revolutionary resistance movement led by fat men. Grouping the stories around themes and issues allows for a fairly comprehensive insight into Carey's shorter works, and provides some key threads for later discussions of the longer fiction. Four of the most significant areas are: American imperialism and culture; capitalism; power and authority; and gender. In Bliss, the hippy capitalists of 'War Crimes' are replaced by the more conventional scenario of hippies versus capitalists. Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. Oscar and Lucinda might be termed 'retro-speculative' fiction. The Tax Inspector is Carey's most savage novel to date, and it captures Marx's vision of the ravening effects of capital. The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith marks a return to the overt alternative world-building found in the early stories with their fantastic and fable-like scenarios. The overlap between post-modernism and post-colonialism in Carey has been investigated by a number of critics.
This study examines the writing career of the respected and prolific novelist Doris Lessing, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 and who has recently published what she has announced will be her final novel. Whereas earlier assessments have focused on Lessing's relationship with feminism and the impact of her 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, this book argues that Lessing's writing was formed by her experiences of the colonial encounter. It makes use of postcolonial theory and criticism to examine Lessing's continued interest in ideas of nation, empire, gender and race, and the connections between them, looking at the entire range of her writing, including her most recent fiction and non-fiction, which have been comparatively neglected.
This is a comprehensive study of Michael Ondaatje's entire oeuvre. Starting from Ondaatje's beginnings as a poet, it offers an intensive account of each of his major publications, including The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming Through Slaughter, In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient, drawing attention to the various contexts and intertexts that have informed his work. The book contains a broad overview of Ondaatje's career for students and readers coming to his work for the first time. It also offers an original reading of his writing which significantly revises conventional accounts of Ondaatje as a postmodern or postcolonial writer. The book draws on a range of postcolonial theory, as well as contributing to debates about postcolonial literature and the poetics of postmodernism.
Slavery is a recurring subject in works by the contemporary British writers Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar, yet their return to this past arises from an urgent need to understand the racial anxieties of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Britain. This book examines the ways in which their literary explorations of slavery may shed light on current issues in Britain today, or what might be thought of as the continuing legacies of the UK's largely forgotten slave past. It looks at a range of novels, poetry and non-fictional works by Phillips, Dabydeen and D'Aguiar in order to consider their creative responses to slavery. The study focuses exclusively on contemporary British literary representations of slavery, and thoughtfully engages with such notions as the history, memory and trauma of slavery and the ethics of writing about this past. It offers a guide to the ways in which the transatlantic slave trade is represented in recent postcolonial literature.
Rohinton Mistry is the only author whose every novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995) and Family Matters (2002) are all set in India's Parsee community. Recognised as one of the most important contemporary writers of postcolonial literature, Mistry's subtle yet powerful narratives engross general readers, excite critical acclaim and form staple elements of literature courses across the world. This study provides an insight into the key features of Mistry's work. It suggests how the author's writing can be read in terms of recent Indian political history, his native Zoroastrian culture and ethos, and the experience of migration, which now sees him living in Canada. The texts are viewed through the lens of diaspora and minority discourse theories to show how Mistry's writing is illustrative of marginal positions in relation to sanctioned national identities. In addition, Mistry utilises and blends the conventions of oral storytelling common to the Persian and South Asian traditions, with nods in the direction of the canonical figures of modern European literature, sometimes reworking and reinflecting their registers and preoccupations to create a distinctive voice redolent of the hybrid inheritance of Parsee culture and of the postcolonial predicament more generally.
This is a critical introduction to the fictional and non-fictional writings of one of the most celebrated and significant literary voices to have emerged from India in recent decades. Encompassing all of Amitav Ghosh's writings to date, it takes a thematic approach that enables in-depth analysis of the cluster of themes, ideas and issues that Ghosh has steadily built up into a substantial intellectual project. This project overlaps significantly with many of the key debates in postcolonial studies and so this book is both an introduction to Ghosh's writing and a contribution to the development of ideas on the ‘postcolonial’ — in particular, its relation to postmodernism.
This study situates Malouf within the field of contemporary international and postcolonial writing, but without losing sight of the author's affiliation with Australian contexts. It presents an original reading of Malouf, finding the unity of his work in the continuity of his ethical concerns: for Malouf, human lives find their value in transformations, specifically in instances of self-overcoming that encounters with difference or otherness provoke. However, the book is fully aware of, and informed by, the quite ample body of criticism on Malouf, and thus provides readers with a broad-based understanding of how his works have been received and assessed. It is an effective companion volume for studies in postcolonial or Australian literature.
Since the publication of The Woman Warrior in 1976, Maxine Hong Kingston has gained a reputation as one of the most popular—and controversial—writers in the Asian American literary tradition. This book traces her development as a writer and cultural activist through both ethnic and feminist discourses, investigating her novels, occasional writings, and her two-book ‘life-writing project’. The publication of The Woman Warrior not only propelled Kingston into the mainstream literary limelight, but also precipitated a vicious and ongoing controversy in Asian American letters over the authenticity—or fakery—of her cultural references. This book traces the debates through the appearance of China Men (1981), as well as the novel Tripmaster Monkey (1989) and her most recent work The Fifth Book of Peace.
Salman Rushdie is one of the world's most important writers of politicised fiction. He is a self-proclaimed controversialist, capable of exciting radically divergent viewpoints; a novelist of extraordinary imaginative range and power; and an erudite, and often fearless, commentator upon the state of global politics today. This critical study examines the intellectual, biographical, literary and cultural contexts from which Rushdie's fiction springs, in order to help the reader make sense of the often complex debates that surround the life and work of this major contemporary figure. It also offers detailed critical readings of all Rushdie's novels, from Grimus through to Shalimar the Clown.