This essay makes a case for the categories of littoral literature and coastal form through which it aims to take up the expansive possibilities of the maritime turn while keeping both the materiality of the ocean and the locality of the shore in sight. It elaborates the notion of coastal form through a focus on the African Indian Ocean littoral and with reference to the oeuvres of Mia Couto and Abdulrazak Gurnah. Both are shown to muddle the inside-outside binary that delineates nations and continents, and which has been particularly stark in framing Africa in both imperial and nativist thought. At the same time, coastal form is found to decenter, extend, and thicken constructions of world literature, while opening to a planetary perspective sensible to the prodigious and implacable forces of the Anthropocene.
Research Article|March 01 2017