By Evan Maina Mwangi

Explores the metafictional ideas of up to date African novels instead of characterizing them essentially as a reaction to colonialism.

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As already shown, the notion of defamiliarization is a politically potent concept despite the demonization of formalism as apolitical and inappropriate for the study of politically invested art such as the postcolonial novel. Beyond aesthetic considerations, African writers have used the “unfamiliar,” especially in political novels, to avoid retaliation by the state or to talk about taboo issues without offending someone. 18 Despite the formalist insinuation that literature has little to do with reflecting the society from which it comes, I undertake a reading of textuality that locates the forms writers enlist to historiographic and political impulses ubiquitous in African literature.

It is important to note that any book that seeks to discuss “the contemporary African novel” naturally risks not only overgeneralizing but also suggesting that “the novel” is a Western phenomenon that other cultures imitate or add to, a notion that has been criticized by Chow in The Age 26 Africa Writes Back to Self of the World Target. Chow unmasks the use of the generic term the novel to mean “English (and sometimes French) materials,” while outside Western Europe the term is almost always invoked with a national or an ethnic qualifier (2006, 78).

This translated into the demand for, and the consequent production of, a literature that was more inward-looking, as opposed to the universalist colonial literatures affecting cosmopolitanism while promoting European interests.

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