Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature

By Shepperson, George | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature


Shepperson, George, British Journal of Canadian Studies


George Elliott Clarke, Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), xii + 491pp. Cloth. £60. ISBN 0-8020-4376-3. Paper. £22.50. ISBN 0-8020-8191-6.

In spite of the publication of Marcel Trudel's L'esclavage au Canada Français in 1960 and of Robin Winks' The Blacks in Canada in 1971, there are still students of Canada who are unaware of the significance of the African element there. One must, therefore, welcome George Elliott Clarke's very original book on African-Canadian literature. It should draw attention not only to the African presence in Canadian writing but also to the often-neglected role which is plays in many aspects of the Canadian mosaic.

Dr Clarke's unconventional but highly stimulating and deeply learned book is divided into three parts: twelve essays on features in African-Canadian literature which interest him (he was, it should be noted here, awarded the 2001 Governor General's Prize for Poetry); eleven scholarly reviews of books on germane topics; and a concluding section of two surveys across the whole range of his complex field. The reader who comes new to this field is advised to read first of all in this third section the succinct survey entitled 'A Primer of African-Canadian Literature'. …

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