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Postcolonial Archipelagos

Essays on Hispanic Caribbean and Lusophone African Fiction


Kristian Van Haesendonck

Writers from different postcolonial regions are usually classified according to their different nationalities or linguistic areas, and have rarely been brought together in one volume. Moving in a new direction, Postcolonial Archipelagos crosses not only geographical but also linguistic boundaries, by focusing on two contexts which seemingly have little or nothing in common with one another: the Hispanic Caribbean, and Lusophone Africa. Kristian Van Haesendonck thus opens new ground, in two ways: first, by making connections between contemporary Caribbean and African writers, moving beyond the topos of slavery and negritude in order to analyse the (im)possibility of conviviality in postcolonial cultures; and secondly, by exploring new ways of approaching these literatures as postcolonial archipelagic configurations with historical links to their respective metropoles, yet also as elements of what Glissant and Hannerz have respectively called "Tout-Monde" and a "world in creolization". Although the focus is on writers from Lusophone Africa (Mia Couto, José Luis Mendonça and Guilherme Mendes da Silva) and the Hispanic Caribbean (Junot Díaz, Eduardo Lalo, Marta Aponte, James Stevens-Arce and Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá), connections are made with and within the broader global context of intensified globalization.

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Edited by Kristian Van Haesendonck

Mia Couto has been recognised internationally as one of the most important African authors of our times. His rapidly growing opus shifts fluidly between various modes of writing, mixing historical elements with poetic and autobiographic ones, in often unpredictable and intellectually challenging ways. With each new book, the writer multiplies various original wor(l)ds, creating new challenges for his readers. Each of Couto’s texts opens up a rhizomic world which in turn contains (an)other world(s), inviting us to review and adjust our earlier interpretations of his oeuvre as a whole.

In The Worlds of Mia Couto a diverse group of literary experts sets out to explore Mia Couto’s oeuvre in relation not only to the imaginary worlds created by the author but also to the complex geographical, cultural and literary contexts that are woven into the texture of his work. While Couto has increasingly received scholarly attention, the international connections and connectivities of his work have been largely neglected so far. This book endeavours to show that Couto’s work can be read beyond its particular Mozambican and Lusophone context by paying attention to the broader African and global literary contexts, including Latin America, Asia and Europe. Mia Couto’s work is, for instance, of particular interest for rethinking, from the margins, established concepts of «World Literature», «globalisation» and the «postcolonial». The various chapters of The Worlds of Mia Couto focus thus on some of the – often unexpected – international connections across his fictional and non-fictional work beyond the Lusophone literary space, crossing cultural, linguistic and gender boundaries.