This essay traces the critical history of African novels; it aligns “postcolonial reading” with the rise of poststructuralism in the United States and the United Kingdom. It correctively reads for realism three novels, all published in 1968 and not usually considered mimetic: Le devoir de violence (Mali), Les soleils des indépendances (Côte d’Ivoire), and The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (Ghana). Only Devoir has been particularly important to the conversation about postcolonial literature and form, thanks to Kwame Anthony Appiah. Andrade’s first claim is that the relation of African novels to realism is not simply naive. What happens when readers shift their attention away from the question of resistance that has so defined the field and ask instead: How does the novel produce its effects? Where does realism lie in this constellation of aesthetics and politics? Andrade’s second claim involves periodization and uneven development. The events that produced the 1968 social explosions in the global North are bound up with the earlier liberation movements of the global South. Thus the global South’s 1968, partially reflected in these novels, offers a perspective on the neoliberalism of the global North’s 1980s.
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September 1, 2012
Susan Z. Andrade; Realism, Reception, 1968, and West Africa. Modern Language Quarterly 1 September 2012; 73 (3): 289–308. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1631406
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