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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Category errors: the 'roman de l'identité' and the impossibility of identity
Author:Small, Audrey
Periodical:Research in African Literatures (ISSN 0034-5210)
Geographic term:Africa
French language
literary criticism
About persons:Tierno Monénembo (1947-)ISNI
André-Patient BokibaISNI
Mbwil a Mpang Ngal (1933-)
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v044/44.3.small.pdf
Abstract:A book proposing an overview of 'African literature' is an attractive proposition to the new reader seeking orientation in a vast and fast-growing vibrant field, to the expert in one area looking to explore others, and perhaps also to the publisher with a canny eye to the bottom line. This essay examines the often bewildering array of apparent subcategories that emerge in some key texts published around the turn of the twentieth-first century that purport to offer an overview of African literature in French, but which seem to entirely set aside important international debates over 'postcolonial', diaspora, and hybridity, among others. These texts have an important role in the construction of knowledge of 'African literature', but their strengths and limitations become clear when we look closely at the categories suggested and no more so than when the category happens to be that of 'identity'. The author argues that this mode of classification tends to emerge as part methodological and part ideological. She examines the use made of the concept of 'identity' as a way of grouping novels by two leading critics, André-Patient Bokiba and Georges Ngal, and explores to what extent their outline of the 'roman de l'identité' responds to and is challenged by Tierno Monénembo's 1995 novel 'Pelourinho'. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]