Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria
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.
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1962 Action group splits due to rift between Awolowo and Akintola, prime
minister of Western Region. Akintola organizes United People's Party (later
NNDP), collaborates with NPC-NCNC. Riots in Western Region produce state of
The colony consisted of three regions, corresponding to the divisions made by
the Niger and Benue Rivers. ... who became high commissioner of Northern
Nigeria in 1900, used both military and diplomatic measures to subdue the
In the contrasting case of the Eastern Region, where the Igbo constituted the
largest ethnic group, traditional political authority had been diffuse. No one
higher than the village level could demand obedience, and even here village
councils, not ...
The Eastern Region, densely populated although it had no counterpart to Lagos,
was the most advanced in terms of education, with Igbo filling administrative
positions and manning the growing industrial sector throughout the country.
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CHAPTER 2 The Nigerian Fiction Complex
CHAPTER 3 Nigerian Novels
CHAPTER 4 Capturing the Past and Inventing the Future
APPENDIX A Nigerian novels
APPENDIX B Nigerian authors
APPENDIX C Coding forms