The Ordeal of the African Writer

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 168 pages

The literatures of the English language experienced an extraordinary transformation in the second half of the 20th century as a result of the creative energy released by decolonization. But as this book demonstrates, only a small number of African writers - Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, Nuruddin Farah and Wole Soyinka - have become known outside their own continent. They also face - and this is the subject of this book - enormous obstacles within Africa getting their work published, let alone supporting themselves financially from their writing.

Charles R. Larson has followed African literature for nearly 40 years. Here he combines writers' own testimony, pen portraits of their lives, and factual investigation in order to explore the dimensions of the problem. Who is the readership in Africa? In what language should an African writer write? What obstacles do African publishing houses face and how do they treat their authors? What has been the response of publishing houses in Europe and America? How does economic crisis and political repression make the situation more difficult? And, most importantly, can anything be done to build a more supportive environment in which the Continent's new writers can produce and publish their work?

This book takes the reader into the little-known human reality of what it is like to be an African writer.

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Contents

Talking with Paper is Only the Beginning
26
African Writers and the Quest for Publication
54
African Publishers African Publishing
93
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Charles R. Larson is professor of literature at the American University, Washington D.C. In addition to several works of fiction of his own, he has specialized in the study of English language writing by authors who may be considered to be outside the mainstream of North American and British fiction. Over the past 30 years he has written a very large number of articles, reviews, essays and stories published in major magazines, as well as books including Under African Skies: Modern African Stories (1997).
Charles R. Larson is professor of literature at the American University, Washington D.C. In addition to several works of fiction of his own, he has specialized in the study of English language writing by authors who may be considered to be outside the mainstream of North American and British fiction. Over the past 30 years he has written a very large number of articles, reviews, essays and stories published in major magazines, as well as books including Under African Skies: Modern African Stories (1997).

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