Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel

Article excerpt

The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel; edited by F. Abiola Irele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. xxii + 282 pp. Hardback ISBN 978-0-522-85560-0. £50. Paperback ISBN 978-0-521-67168-2. £17.99.

I approached this volume with some scepticism. Do students really need yet another introductory volume on the African novel? Scepticism but also pleasure that the prestigious Cambridge Companion series was taking cognisance of post-colonial, and especially African literature. The series was launched with Shakespeare and Chaucer in 1986 and aims to provide "lively, accessible introductions to major writers, artists, philosophers, topics and periods. All are collections of specially commissioned essays, shaped and introduced to appeal to student readers.... who wanted reasonably priced critical books that offered a variety of viewpoints rather than a single, idiosyncratic voice. Companions are designed not only to offer a comprehensive overview of their chosen topic, but to display and provoke lively and controversial debate."

CUP have gathered an impressive team of contributors, with a fine balance of African, North American and European, Anglophone and Francophone scholars. The thematic mix is also hard to fault: magical realism, historical novels, the 'oral-literature interface', Bildungsroman, the feminine and postcolonial conditions. …

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