Academic journal article New Formations

Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature

Academic journal article New Formations

Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature

Article excerpt

Yogita Goyal, Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010; 277pp £50 (US $85.00) hardback

This thought-provoking book determinedly excavates the full meaning of die term black diaspora. Goyal begins with the astute contention that Africa itself is often 'curiously absent' from contemporary discussions of the black Atlantic (p7). Rectifying this omission, she instead frames the continent as 'constitutive of black modernity', tracking the literary representations and discursive function of Africa in the work of writers such as Pauline Hopkins, WE. B. DuBois, Joseph Casely Hayford, Richard Wright, Ama Ata Aidoo and Caryl Phillips (p7). In so doing, Goyal not only makes a persuasive case for Africa powering the imagination of these diverse individuals, but she also troubles the critical tendency to assign authors to either nationalist or transnationalist camps, by arguing that both sets of ideas are frequently at work. She draws attention to the ways that romance and realism shore up imagined communities and her key contention is that 'black Atlantic fiction gains its energy from the friction of two competing modes - nationalist realism and diasporic romance' (p8).

This emphasis allows Goyal to shed light on the contradictions and disjunctures of black Atlantic writing. Anchoring her book around the key figures of Garvey and Fanon, she draws attention to the linear and developmental time of nationalist realism, which, she argues, is troubled by the recursive and messianic time of diasporic romance. In making this distinction, Goyal successfully maps the journey from Garvey's black Empire to Fanon's revolution. …

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