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Title:'A universal garden of many-coloured flowers': place and scale in the works of Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Author:Crowley, Dustin
Periodical:Research in African Literatures (ISSN 0034-5210)
Geographic term:Kenya
literary criticism
About person:Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1938-)ISNI
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v044/44.3.crowley.pdf
Abstract:The literary career of Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o has attracted much attention from critics attempting to understand the tensions of culture and class, unity and difference, and oppression and resistance that exist within and between his works. Many of the contradictions are structured around perceived breaks in Ngugi's thinking, especially between an early, locally focused concern with cultural nationalism and a later, more globally focused narrative of neocolonialism. Drawing on concepts and frameworks from recent debates in geography, this article challenges the assumptions of a local-global dichotomy that underpin much of this criticism; geocritical analysis of four works spanning Ngugi's career (The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, I Will Marry When I Want, and Wizard of the Crow) suggests a consistently 'glocal' understanding in his representation of place and scale. Ngugi has tended to narrate local place as the product of large-scale interventions and to understand the global as constructed from and manifested within place-based conditions. By decoupling issues of class, culture, domination, and resistance from dichotomous alignment with the local and global as opposing forces, this article argues critics can better understand the nature of these tensions and more precisely deal with the shifting means by which Ngugi attempts to negotiate them. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]