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Returning Voyagers: the Ghanaian Novel in the Nineties

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2008

Extract

Ghanaian novelists are notorious for their long absences from fiction, and the 1990s have seen the long-awaited return of some major talents. Kofi Awoonor and Ama Ata Aidoo allowed, respectively, 21 and 14 years to pass between the publication of their first and second novels, while 17 years separated the fifth and sixth works of Ayi Kwei Armah, the best-established writer of the three. Meanwhile, each has been active in other genres during the long intervals — poetry, short stories, essays – and none of them have fallen silent. Awoonor indicated, shortly after his experimental poetic first novel, This Earth, My Brother (1971), that he was at work on another, from which a lengthy extract was actually published in a journal in 1975,1 and advance notices of the full version continued apace, even though it did not appear until 1992. Armah allowed it to be known in 1989, in a rare interview, that since The Healers (1978) he had completed three more novels which, for want of a suitable African publishing house, remained in manuscript form.2 In the foreword to her 1991 novel, Aidoo refers to an interview in 1967 in which she stated that she ‘could never write about lovers in Accra because surely in our environment there are more important things to write about’. The very vehemence of the protest suggested at the time, however, that the author's mind was already running along the lines of this subject, which might at some future date receive full fictional treatment.

Type
Reviews Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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References

1 Kofi Awoonor, ‘Comes the Voyager At Last’, in Okike (Nsukka), 7, 1975, Pp. 31–56.

2 Osofisan, Femi, ‘Reflections on a Fading Breed’, in Sunday Times (Lagos), 26 11 1989, p. 5.Google Scholar

3 See Armah, Ayi Kwei, ‘The Lazy School of Literary Criticism’, in West Africa (London), 25 02 1985, pp. 355–6;Google Scholar ‘Flood and Famine, Drought and Glut’ in Ibid. 30 September 1985, pp. 2011–12; ‘Dakar Hieroglyphs’, in –. 19 May 1986, pp. 1043–4; and Igwe, Dimbga, ‘Ayi Kwei Armah's Celebration of Silence’, in Sunday Concord (Lagos), 12 04 1987, pp. 1112.Google Scholar

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