In June 2020, a group of more than one hundred African writers published a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter uprisings that emerged around the world in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. In this statement are a number of claims around the extension of Black internationalism and solidarities and the uneven—and sometimes uneasy—interrelation between the violence of white supremacy as evidenced in the United States and the larger violence of coloniality experienced globally today. This essay, taking these claims as its spark, explores how the contemporary African literary novel, as a form, registers a response to the historical degradation of Black lives under the colonial matrix of power, which, while often sympathetic with the analytic framework of Black Lives Matter, does not always cohere with it. Reading a broad range of texts, the essay argues that the ambivalent relationship to Black Lives Matter engendered in these works stems from a persistent cleaving of coloniality from an America‐specific reading of white supremacy and violence against Black lives, which these texts sometimes perpetuate. Critics such as Ashleigh Harris and Sarah Brouillette have described the novel form in an African context as both “exhausted” and “residual,” inextricably implicated in the violence of neoliberalism. By drawing on comparative readings of non‐novelistic work such as Marechera's House of Hunger and the Chimurenga Chronic, this essay concludes by considering the extent to which the ambivalence registered in the African literary novel is itself an inevitability of its own formal parameters and their entanglement with concepts of nation, extroversion/extraction, and coloniality.

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