A New Generation of African Writers

A New Generation of African Writers

Migration, Material Culture and Language

Brenda Cooper

Brenda Cooper examines the work of the new generation of African writers who have placed migration as central to their writing
There is a growing interest in books by writers of African origin. These authors have often grown up or passed their early adult years out of Africa. The Orange Prize for Fiction was awarded in London 2007 to Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, and the Caine Prize for African Writing has introduced new writers such as Leila Aboulela, Biyi Bandele and Chimamanda Adichie herself to agents and publishers.

This examination of the extraordinary work which has recently appeared is therefore very timely. Migration is a central theme of much African fiction written in English. Here, Brenda Cooper tracks the journeys undertaken by a new generation of African writers, their protagonists and the solid objects that populate their fiction, to depict the material realities of their multiple worlds and languages. She explores the uses to which the English language is put in order to understand these worlds and demonstrates how these writers have contested the dominance of colonising metaphors. The writers' challenge is to find an English that can effectively express their many lives, languages and identities.

BRENDA COOPER was for many years Director of the Centre for African Studies and Professor in the English department at the University of Cape Town, where she is now an Emeritus Professor. In 2009 she moved to Salford, where she is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Manchester. She has published widely on African fiction and postcolonial literary theory.

Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland): University of KwaZulu-Natal Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Multiple worlds, material culture & language
Virtual objects & parallel universes in Biyi Bandele's The Street
Everyday objects & translation in Leila Aboulela's The Translator & Coloured Lights
Science & power in Jamal Mahjoub's The Carrier
Words, things & subjectivity in Moses Isegawa's Abyssinian Chronicles
Breaking gods & petals of purple in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus
An abnormal ordinary: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun
Conclusion: the rifle is not a penis


Cooper's writing is rich and dense, the ideas complex yet accessible. A New Generation is overall an intelligent, compelling and carefully written work which embraces theoretical complexity while remaining strongly textually-focused. BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL & AFRICAN STUDIES
Superb, meticulously researched and a symbolic transition from the "Old" to the "New", with considerable energy and insight, an elaborate compendium of the manipulation of the English language. [...] This work is no doubt a great resource for students, teachers and researchers of African literature. AFRICAN RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION

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