… A challenge facing critics of African Literature in the 80's is facing the neglected frontiers of our literary and critical endeavors. We all have, up to now, neglected the short story as a genre worthy of critical attention, even though there is already a respectable body of short stories written by our most celebrated writers. Whatever the case may be, our critics must be reminded that the short story as a genre is still stillborn on the African literary scene. To deliver this baby, to ensure the healthy birth of the short story (through vigorous response) into the mainstream of the African literary scene is a major challenge facing critics of African Literature.
The above outcry was taken from an article, ‘The Short Story as a Genre, with Notes on Achebe's “The Madman”‘ by my friend and colleague, the erudite scholar, Charles Nnolim. Three decades later, nothing has changed; the critical gap in the criticism of African Literature decried by Nnolim remains unaddressed, unfilled. If anything, the gap has become wider and deeper. It is as if no serious critic even took notice of Nnolim's call for urgent action. National and international conferences and colloquiums continue to be held in Africa and elsewhere to address issues and challenges associated with the novel, poetry, and drama in African literature, with virtually no attention paid to the short story. This abysmal lack of interest is also true of the attitudes of teachers, publishers and educators in general in Africa. These concerns are the factors that motivated this special volume of African Literature Today, on ‘Writing Africa in the Short Story.’
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