Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-qvlvc Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-26T10:51:42.294Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

34 - Sub-Saharan Africa and the Novel in French

from Part V - Fictions of the Fifth Republic: From de Gaulle to the Internet Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Adam Watt
University of Exeter
Get access


This chapter provides a critical overview of how Sub-Saharan Francophone Africans have engaged with the form of the novel from the period of decolonization to the first decades of the new millennium. It is meant for readers new to the Sub-Saharan Francophone novel and for those needing an updated overview of the major periods and authors that have brought visibility and coherence to the field. It is organized chronologically to combine classic literary historiography and highlights for each period landmark publications, thematic continuities, and formal innovations. It also offers contextual insights underscoring the specificity of novelistic production in a variety of African postcolonial situations. In each case these developments follow the imperative to represent African realities within a language—and often literary models—imposed by a colonial power: France. The chapter offers an updated reassessment of previous literary historiographies, insisting not only on formal considerations, but also on the evolution of the cultural status of the African novel across periods and in various literary markets. It includes a final section on contemporary ‘turns’ which further expose some of the recent developments, both formal and sociological, that have contributed to the most spectacular refashionings of novelistic production in the twenty-first century.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Further Reading

Abiola Irele, Francis (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Adesanmi, Pius, ‘Redefining Paris: Trans-Modernity and Francophone African Migritude Fiction’, MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 51.4 (2005), 958–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andrade, Susan Z., ‘The Problem of Realism and African Fiction’, Novel, 42.2 (2009), 183–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bush, Ruth, Publishing Africa in French: Literary Institutions and Decolonization 1945–1967 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cazenave, Odile and Célérier, Patricia, Contemporary Francophone Writers and the Burden of Commitment (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2011)Google Scholar
Ducournau, Claire, La Fabrique des classiques africains: écrivains d’Afrique subsaharienne francophone (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2017)Google Scholar
Fonkoua, Romuald and Halen, Pierre (eds.), Les Champs littéraires africains (Paris: Karthala, 2001)Google Scholar
Garnier, Xavier and Coulon, Virginie (eds.), Les Littératures Africaines: textes et terrains (Paris: Karthala, 2011)Google Scholar
Gikandi, Simon, Reading the African Novel (London: James Currey, 1987)Google Scholar
Higginson, Pim, The Noir Atlantic: Chester Himes and the Birth of the Francophone Crime Novel (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hitchcott, Nicki, Rwanda Genocide Stories: Fiction After 1994 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015)Google Scholar
Krishnan, Madhu, Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2018)Google Scholar
Miller, Christopher, Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993)Google Scholar
Moudileno, Lydie, ‘The Francophone Novel in Sub-Saharan Africa’, in The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel, ed. by Abiola Irele, , pp. 125–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moudileno, Lydie, Littératures africaines francophones des années 1980 et 1990 (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2003)Google Scholar
Newell, Stephanie, West African Literatures: Ways of Reading (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)Google Scholar
Ngal, George, Orientations actuelles de la littérature et de la pensée africaine (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010)Google Scholar
Soumaré, Zakaria, Le Génocide rwandais dans la littérature africaine francophone (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2014)Google Scholar
Thomas, Dominic and Mabanckou, Alain (eds.), Francophone Sub-Saharan Literature in Global Contexts (Yale French Studies, 120 (2011))Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats