West African Literatures

Ways of Reading


The Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures series (general editor: Elleke Boehmer) offers stimulating and accessible introductions to definitive topics and key genres and regions within the rapidly diversifying field of postcolonial literary studies in English.This study of West African literatures interweaves the analysis of fiction, drama, and poetry with an exploration of the broader political, cultural, and intellectual contexts within which West African writers work. Anglophone literatures form the central focus of the book, with comparative comments on vernacular literature, francophone writing and oral literatures, and detailed discussion of selected francophone texts in translation (e.g., Senghor, Tadjo, Beyala, Bâ, Sembene). Moving froma discussion of nationalist and anti-colonial writing in the period before independence, towards the more experimental writings of contemporary authors such as Véronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast), Syl Cheney-Coker (Sierra Leone), and Kojo Laing (Ghana), the book constantly relates texts to the social andpolitical history of West Africa. Canonical, internationally well-known writers such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka are positioned in relation to the literary cultures and debates which surrounded them when they first produced their seminal texts; the discussions and disagreements which have grown up around their work in subsequent decades are also considered. The work of new and lesser-known writers is also considered, including Niyi Osundare (Nigeria) and Kofi Anyidoho (Ghana). In order toconvey a sense of the rich and complex societies that are clustered beneath the umbrella-term 'postcolonial', emphasis is placed on West Africa's diverse oral and popular cultures, and the ways in which local intellectuals and readers have responded to the most prominent authors through theaesthetic frameworks generated by these forms.
  • OUP Oxford; June 2006
  • ISBN 9780191515231
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: West African Literatures
  • Author: Stephanie Newell
  • Imprint: OUP Oxford

In The Press

The first books in this series are exemplary. Newell, Patke, and Keown all achieve the difficult task of combining accessible, wide-ranging and authoritative introductions to particular areas and genres with new perspectives and fresh insights into specific texts. I found them remarkably readable and rewarding.

About The Author

Stephanie Newell is Reader in English Literature at the University of Sussex. Her research interests include West African literature, African newspaper culture, African readerships, and postcolonial theory. She has published widely on African popular culture and West African newspaper history. Her most recent books include two studies of West African popular literature and a queer history of colonial West Africa, The Forger's Tale: The Search for'Odeziaku'.