Dialogues across boundaries in two Southern African thrillers.
The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 46, (1), . (doi:10.1177/0021989410396043).
PDF (This is a journal article that problematises the notion of 'local cosmopolitanism' with regard to two contemporary Southern African thrillers. The article is part of the thematic bloc on local cosmopolitanisms which I edited.)
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Framed by the critical thinking of Achille Mbembe, this article traces how two recent thrillers from Southern Africa, Zambian Grieve Sibale’s 1998 Murder in the Forest and South African Deon Meyer’s 1999 Dead before Dying, concern themselves with questions of trauma, “tradition” and the remaking of African subjectivities, by embodying and representing a series of local-cosmopolitan openings out to difference and to change. Both novels tie the conditions of possibility of individual and social “rebirths” to the necessity of establishing dialogues across socially constructed boundaries, and both reject the logics of stereotype and of revenge. The complex and vigorous regional literary debate that the novels participate in has thus far remained invisible to the trans-national field of literary postcolonialism, chiefly because of its insufficient engagement with locally circulating and “popular-genre” texts. It is part of this article’s aim to contribute towards addressing this scholarly lacuna.
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