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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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Chapter 9. Narrating Postcolonial Lives


Chapter 9

Narrating Postcolonial Lives

In this last chapter, I aim to further link the Hispanic Caribbean and Lusophone African literary spaces. A first thing that has become very clear is that the concerns which these novels from both spaces deal with transcend their particular linguistic areas: within the Caribbean, for instance, we have seen how Puerto Rican and Martinican novels bear important similarities. While we have not compared Lusophone African fiction with other African literatures (e.g. Francophone or Anglophone writers), there are, beyond differences, arguably similar features between, say, one writer from Angola and another from Kenia, as a growing bibliography of research in African literatures indicates. Going beyond the linguistic, we have explored fiction from different postcolonial areas, exploring themes such as madness, light and lightness, and modes of writing such as auto-fiction and science-fiction. Various themes and aspects return across these works in spite of the known geographical, political and linguistic boundaries and divergences that separate Caribbean and African writers. The divisions continue within each of these cultural spaces. However, it is our responsibility as scholars to trace important trends within these spaces, as they emerge unpredictably, usually there where no one expects them to emerge.

Hispanic Caribbean and Lusophone African writers have in common that both their past and their present have been deeply determined by their colonial experience: the impossibility of laying out the foundations of a convivial space transcends national and linguistic boundaries. Colonialisms and imperialisms, whether driven...

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