The Tales We Tell: Perspectives on the Short Story

By Barbara Lounsberry; Susan Lohafer et al. | Go to book overview

do with the place of the genre. This "absence" of place makes the African short story quite possibly more difficult but, in the long run, more rewarding for the non-African reader because it demands that its readers pay attention to the people of the stories without romanticizing or sentimentalizing them. Readers are introduced to Africa mostly on its own terms. For this reason, the African short story may well displace--indeed, has always already displaced--the novel as the postcolonial genre.


NOTES
1.
See de Grandsaigne and Spackey ( 1984); Balogun ( 1991); Feuser ( 1986). See Julien ( 1983) on the origin of the African short story.
2.
For discussions of the ethnographic nature of postcolonial literature, see Ashcroft , Tiffin, and Griffiths ( 1989); Slemon and Tiffin ( 1989).
3.
See also the special issue on the question of language, Research in African Literature 23.1 (Spring 1992).
4.
See lo Liyong Fixions and Other Stories ( 1969).
5.
See, for example, the debate between Jameson ( 1986) and Ahmad ( 1987).
6.
See Gray ( 1991) for a discussion about the problems of anthology selection-- particularly for anthologies of South African writing.
7.
See, of course, Fanon: "For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land" ( 1961, 44).
8.
There are, of course, exceptions to the generalization that African short stories in English eschew lengthy topographic or ethnographic description. See, for example, Bessie Head's lyrical "Snapshots of a Wedding" in which she begins the story with a lengthy description of place. It is possible that South African short story writers in general, undoubtedly as part of the ongoing antiapartheid campaign, tend to make more ethnographic and topographic references than short story writers from other African nations.
9.
For a discussion of the use of the primitive in essentializing the other, see Torgovnick ( 1990).
10.
Signifiers of place may also be usefully understood in terms of Barthes notion ( 1968) of the "reality effect."
11.
However, see Zabus who, in discussing the use of indigenous terms in Europhone African texts, argues that "indigenization [is] a double-edged weapon, a tortuous instrument of liberation. On the one hand, it appears as a valid strategy of decolonialization. . . . On the other hand, indigenization and its attendant methods help revitalize and recirculate a European language in need of syncretic transfusion" ( 1991, 44). For a discussion of the problems of multilinguistic texts, see also Dasenbrock ( 1987).
12.
In European-language African short stories, Feuser notes twenty-eight themes ( 1986, 1110).
13.
Ngugi, for instance, originally published his stories in little magazines in Kenya: Penpoint, Kenya Weekly News, Transition, The New African, Zuka, Ghala, and Joe Magazine ( Nguugi 1975, Acknowledgments).

-79-

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