Perceiving Pain in African Literature

Hardcover | December 7, 2012

byZoe Norridge

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Why do African writers choose to describe pain in their novels, memoirs and travelogues? What purpose could such descriptions serve? And do they fall into the danger of simply re-confirming negative stereotypes about Africa as an inevitably pained continent?

Perceiving Pain in African Literature argues that the literary text has a particular role to play in contesting and re-working the personal, social and political meanings of pain. Drawing on fiction and life-writing published in English and French over the last forty years, this book explores the complexities of literature's invitation to imagine pain.

Themes such as pain and meaning, literature as testimony, conflict writing, genocide and human rights are explored in relation to primary texts from West Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Southern Africa. Authors including Yvonne Vera, J.M.Coetzee, Ahmadou Kourouma, Véronique Tadjo and Aminatta Forna are discussed alongside theoretical insights from medical anthropology, cultural theory, postcolonial studies and global literature.

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Why do African writers choose to describe pain in their novels, memoirs and travelogues? What purpose could such descriptions serve? And do they fall into the danger of simply re-confirming negative stereotypes about Africa as an inevitably pained continent? Perceiving Pain in African Literature argues that the literary text has a part...

Zoe Norridge is a Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at King's College London, UK. She has also taught African and Global Literature at the University of York, University of Oxford and the School of Oriental and African Studies. In 2011 she was named one of ten BBC Radio 3 and AHRC New Generation Thinkers.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.62 inPublished:December 7, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230367429

ISBN - 13:9780230367425

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction: Pain, Literature and the Personal
Painful Encounters in Yvonne Vera's The Stone Virgins
Between Minds and Bodies – the Location of Pain and Racial Trauma in Works by Bessie Head and J.M. Coetzee
Women's Pains and the Creation of Meaning in Francophone Narratives from West Africa
Writing around Pain – Personal Testimonies from Rwanda by African Writers
Responding to Pain, from Healing to Human Rights: Aminatta Forna, Antjie Krog and James Orbinski
Epilogue: Literature and the Place of Pain
Works Cited
Index

Editorial Reviews

"A wide-ranging scrutiny of the ethics and aesthetics of representing pain in narrative, this thought-provoking study extends the geographical remit of trauma studies and the conceptual underpinnings of 'African literature'." - Ranka Primorac, Lecturer, University of Southampton, UK "Zoe Norridge has given us an extraordinarily rich, insightful and often moving account of the depiction of pain in narratives by African writers, exploring literature's ability to do justice to the experience of suffering in ways not available to the social sciences. Constantly alert to the political, ethical and aesthetic questions that such writing raises, she traces the representation of pain as it occurs in fiction, testimony, memoir and literary journalism from a number of African countries, without shying away from hard questions about the role of literature in our dealings with pain and its consequences in the real world." - Derek Attridge, Professor, University of York, UK"Perceiving Pain offers not only a detailed and thoughtful examination of the texts, but also of the challenges faced by the writer: our motivations and conflicts, the possibilities and the limitations of constructing stories around war and oppression, of what it is that literature can achieve and what, finally, makes a writer write." - Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love