This essay attempts to locate the work of the Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah within a tradition of African and postcolonial critical thought that privileges “teacherliness” as a measure of value and significance in its discourse and as an aesthetic principle in literary texts. It argues that for most postcolonial literatures or literatures from emergent literary spaces (to use Pascale Casanova's term), literary value inheres as much in the teachability of the text as in whatever other aesthetic qualities it may possess. This means that the text's ability to illustrate, rework, or represent some theme or issue considered to be of major significance and to open it up for teaching is as much a source of literary value as any of its other formal qualities. In locating Farah's latest cycle of novels within this intellectual genealogy, I read Farah's Past Imperfect trilogy as consisting of novels that depict the movement from the teacherly texts of decolonization to the teacherly texts of postcolonial globalization.

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