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,

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691058290
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
05/30/2000
Series:
Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology Series
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
885,879
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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