Narrative Shape-Shifting

November 2009
174 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781847010124
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
James Currey

Narrative Shape-Shifting

Myth, Humor and History in the Fiction of Ben Okri, B. Kojo Laing and Yvonne Vera

Arlene A. Elder

The hybrid novels of Ben Okri, B. Kojo Laing, and Yvonne Vera address contemporary African politics in contrasting styles but complementary religious, cultural, and feminist approaches.
Responding to many of the same neo-colonial concerns as earlier African writers, Ben Okri, B. Kojo Laing and Yvonne Vera bring contemporary, hybrid voices to their novels that explore spiritual, cultural and feminist solutions to Africa's complex post-independence dilemmas. Their work is informed by both African and western traditions, especially the influences of traditional oral storytelling and post-modern fictional experimentation. Yet each is unique:
Ben Okri is a religious writer steeped in the metaphysical complexities of a traditional symbiosis of physical and spiritual co-existence;
B. Kojo Laing's humor grounds itself in linguistic play and outrageous characterization;
Yvonne Vera translates her eco-feminist hope in political and social transformation with a focus on the developing political actions of Zimbabwean women.
All three reflect on the colonial and post-independence turmoil in their respective countries of birth - Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Together, they represent the evolution of a brilliant contemporary generation of post-independence voices.

ARLENE A. ELDER is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of The Hindered Hand: Cultural Implications of Nineteenth-Century African-American Fiction and has published essays and articles on African, African-American, Native-American and Australian Aboriginal literatures and orature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: writing as ase
Ben Okri's narrative cycle: shape-shifting on the page
B. Kojo Laing's linguistic journeying
Yvonne Vera & the womanist claims of history
Concluding and ...
Ben Okri, B. Kojo Laing & Yvonne Vera: short biographies