Sunday, August 06, 2006

The new diasporic literature

In today's The Guardian (Nigeria), Toyin Akinosho makes an interesting distinction:

"In the old Diaspora literature, the central character is trying to make sense of his new environment. In the new Diaspora literature, the protagonists are masters of their surroundings.." He finishes the piece thus, "Evans and Oyeyemi are British writers, in terms of the environment and characters they create, but they can't leave Nigerian spirits alone, or the spirits won't leave them."

I think this may be a keen insight which encapsulates a pervasive theme in much contemporary Nigerian diasporic writing. It is certainly captured in the title and themes of the forthcoming text The Return by Teju Cole. Ten to fifteen years ago, Nigerian writers abroad were dealing with the strangeness of being in other worlds. The sons and daughters of this generation are now ready to return, literally and in terms of themes. Nigeria is re-acquiring some kind of gravity again; the myriad muses and expressive spirits at work on this land have awoken.

Incidentally, the Arts page on page 54 of today's Guardian is excellent, with a review of 26a by Molara Wood as well as the Akinosho article. I've criticised the paper in the past (it still deserves all the criticism it can get), but they did well on that page today. They also mention that Fela Day will be celebrated on August 23rd at the National Theatre (it was the ninth anniversary of his death last week).


Anonymous,  6:29 am  

Okay I must say you write REALLY WELL!!! Kudos, I mean it feels like you should be the one writing books, reading excerpts from YOUR NY TIMES BEST SELLER, and signing autographs..hehehe...BTW read your blog on homeboy with the roller blades spotting his ipod and specs, this Lagos turning into NY slowly but surely incident, I say a big fat MAYBE NO!! to that. Please I have lived here in the U.S for 8 years, and I am finally on my way back home to naij, and i sure don't want to get confused when I get there! Before I get snapped at, I do support developments etc etc but i mean westernization and modernization..not the same thing..hehe Tell me a little bit more about your backgroung Jay, undergrad, grad? major in school? your job in abuja? career interests?

hilary 11:18 am  

the hilarity of everyday life in New York is so real

Shango,  5:30 pm  

When I lived in Nigeria, there was a story I heard often enough: one day, for whatever reason, a pig was taken out of its sty, washed, scented and bejewelled, then flown to Oyinbo country where it was educated at the best schools.

Upon arrival back to its home, said pig immediately threw off its jewels, nice clothes, and certificates then started wallowing joyfully in the mud of its sty.

Perhaps this, more than anything else, is the reason for the Nigerian "return".

Anonymous,  4:13 am  

the pig metaphor is rather insulting. there are better choices please.

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