Under African Skies: Modern African Stories by Charles LarsonUnder African Skies: Modern African Stories by Charles Larson

Under African Skies: Modern African Stories

EditorCharles Larson

Paperback | August 5, 1998

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Spanning a wide geographical range, this collection features many of the now prominent first generation of African writers and draws attention to a new generation of writers. Powerful, intriguing and essentially non-Western, these stories will be welcome by an audience truly ready for multicultural voices.

Charles R. Larson pioneered courses in African, African-American, and Third World literature. The author of numerous critical volumes, including The Emergence of African Fiction, he teaches at American University in Washington D.C.
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Title:Under African Skies: Modern African StoriesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.75 inPublished:August 5, 1998

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0374525501

ISBN - 13:9780374525507

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Read from the Book

Under African SkiesAmos Tutuola(BORN 1920) NIGERIAAmos Tutuola's writing career began in 1948, when he mailed The Wild Hunter in the Bush of Ghosts to the Focal Press in London. In an earlier letter, Tutuola had described the ghost narrative, claiming that the text would be accompanied by photographs of Nigerian spirits. According to Bernth Lindfors, when the Focal Press received the work, "the 77-page handwritten manuscript had been wrapped in brown paper, rolled up like a magazine, bound with twine, and sent via surface mail. When the sixteen negatives accompanying it were developed, all but one turned out to be snapshots of hand-drawn sketches of spirits and other phenomena featured in the story. Tutuola had hired a schoolboy to draw these illustrations and had photographed them. He had also included a photograph of a human being sitting by the lagoon in Lagos because he felt that she adequately represented 'the old woman who sat near the river' in the story."In Tutuola's enchanting narrative, there are illegitimate and cannibalistic ghosts, a sixteen-headed ghost, and a Salvation Army ghost, plus an educated ghost who teaches the narrator to read and write. More disturbing, the Yoruba afterworld (the domain of the spirits described in the story) has become fully bureaucratic, so complicated in its red tape that it's surprising that anyone ever passes on.The Focal Press--publishers of photography books--quickly lost interest in Tutuola's novel, which languished until Lindfors edited the work for publication in 1982. Well before that time, Tutuola had become a worldfamouswriter, primarily because of the publication of The Palm-Wine Drinkard , in 1952. Reviewing the book, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas noted: "This is the brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching story, written in young English by a West African, about a journey of an expert and devoted palm-wine drinkard through a nightmare of indescribable adventures, all simply and carefully described, in the spirit-bristling bush." The term "young English" confused the literary world, which quickly assumed that all subsequent Anglophone African writers would write in a similar style.Clearly, Amos Tutuola's creative world is bewitching, extraordinarily vivid, and unforgettable. The Yoruba cosmology, which is central in each of the author's seven published books, often springs spontaneously alive when a character opens a door (perhaps in a tree) and enters into an entirely new world. As I wrote years ago, Tutuola's eschatology provides "a bridge between the internal and the external world (the ontological gap), between the real and the surreal, between the realistic and the supernatural."Amos Tutuola was born in Abeokuta, Western Nigeria, in 1920. He completed six years of primary-school education, followed by training as a blacksmith, while serving in the R.A.F. in Lagos throughout World War II. The Palm-Wine Drinkard was written while Tutuola was working as a messenger for the Department of Labor. "The Complete Gentleman" has been excerpted from The Palm-Wine Drinkard as an example of oral storytelling incorporated into a written narrative. Other versions of this story exist in many West African languages. (See, for example, "The Chosen Suitor," from Dahomean Narrative, edited by Melville and Frances Herskovits, 1958.)Introduction copyright © 1997 by Charles R. Larson

From Our Editors

Under African Skies gathers some of the 20th century's most important African works and includes the efforts of exciting new voices. Spanning a wide geographical range and a stunning diversity of themes, stories include Ken Saro-Wiwa's apocalyptic portrait of an innocent martyr, Amos Tutola's surreal tale of a woman bewitched by a skull with borrowed limbs and Es'kia Mphahlele's story of the peculiar relationship between a madam and her dog. Powerful and intriguing, these stories are unforgettable.