Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria

Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria

by Wendy Griswold
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691058296

ISBN-13: 9780691058290

Pub. Date: 05/30/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Greed, frustrated love, traffic jams, infertility, politics, polygamy. These—together with depictions of traditional village life and the impact of colonialism made familiar to Western readers through Chinua Achebe's writing—are the stuff of Nigerian fiction. Bearing Witness examines this varied content and the determined people who, against all odds,

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Overview

Greed, frustrated love, traffic jams, infertility, politics, polygamy. These—together with depictions of traditional village life and the impact of colonialism made familiar to Western readers through Chinua Achebe's writing—are the stuff of Nigerian fiction. Bearing Witness examines this varied content and the determined people who, against all odds, write, publish, sell, and read novels in Africa's most populous nation.

Drawing on interviews with Nigeria's writers, publishers, booksellers, and readers, surveys, and a careful reading of close to 500 Nigerian novels—from lightweight romances to literary masterpieces—Wendy Griswold explores how global cultural flows and local conflicts meet in the production and reception of fiction. She argues that Nigerian readers and writers form a reading class that unabashedly believes in progress, rationality, and the slow-but-inevitable rise of a reading culture. But they do so within a society that does not support their assumptions and does not trust literature, making them modernists in a country that is simultaneously premodern and postmodern.

Without privacy, reliable electricity, political freedom, or even social toleration of bookworms, these Nigerians write and read political satires, formula romances, war stories, complex gender fiction, blood-and-sex crime capers, nostalgic portraits of village life, and profound explorations of how decent people get by amid urban chaos. Bearing Witness is an inventive and moving work of cultural sociology that may be the most comprehensive sociological analysis of a literary system ever written.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691058290
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
05/30/2000
Series:
Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology Series
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)

Table of Contents

Figures ix

Acknowledgments xi

Abbreviations xiii

Key Dates In Nigerian History xv

CHAPTER 1 To Understand the Novel in Nigeria 3

In Nigeria 6

The Novel 13

To Understand 17

CHAPTER 2 The Nigerian Fiction Complex 26

The Novels 29

The Writers 38

The Business 60

The Readers 88

CHAPTER 3 Nigerian Novels 120

Village and City 12 3

Women and Men 167

Pen and Sword 208

Crime and Politics 238

CHAPTER 4 Capturing the Past and Inventing the Future 269

APPENDIX A. Nigerian novels 275

APPENDIX B. Nigerian authors 288

APPENDIX C. Coding forms 292

Notes 297

Bibliography 323

INDEX 333

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