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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Kenyan popular fiction in English and the melodramas of the underdogs
Author:Odhiambo, TomISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:popular literature
English language
urban society
social inequality
Abstract:The postcolonial urban landscape, especially in Africa, remains a place defined by an inchoate relationship between the different social classes occupying it. This essay is a brief analysis of the relationship between the poor and the rich in an urban setting as dramatized in popular literature from Kenya. Most of the writers of this ficiton, including David Maillu, Meja Mwangi, Mwangi Ruheni and Mwangi Gicheru, either started their writing career in the 1970s or set their stories in this period. The essay emphasizes the calculated strategies that the poor adopt, as underdogs, in the battle with the rich over resources. These strategies have only one objective: to maximize benefits in any situation when an advantage can be extracted. Such tactics are adopted by either female or male characters, according to the literature that the author refers to, more so because the gender divide further dramatizes the structural relationships of inequality between the different socioeconomic classes, but in this instance within the underprivileged class(es). But these tales are not just stories of 'survival tactics' by the urban poor; they also implicate the rest of the society as complicit in the production of the social realities that (re-)produce the melodramas enacted in them. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]