Gender in African Women's Writing

Gender in African Women’s Writing

Identity, Sexuality, and Difference
Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/1/1997
Format: paper 0 pages
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21149-1
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1997
“This is a cogent analysis of the complexities of gender in the work of nine contemporary Anglophone and Francophone novelists. . . . offers illuminating interpretations of worthy writers . . . ” —Multicultural Review

“This book reaffirms Bessie Head’s remark that books are a tool, in this case a tool that allows readers to understand better the rich lives and the condition of African women. Excellent notes and a rich bibliography.” —Choice

“. . . a college-level analysis which will appeal to any interested in African studies and literature.” —The Bookwatch

This book applies gender as a category of analysis to the works of nine sub-Saharan women writers: Aidoo, Bá, Beyala, Dangarembga, Emecheta, Head, Liking, Tlali, and Zanga Tsogo. The author appropriates western feminist theories of gender in an African literary context, and in the process, she finds and names critical theory that is African, indigenous, self-determining, which she then melds with western feminist theory and comes out with an over-arching theory that enriches western, post-colonial and African critical perspectives.

Author Bio

Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi, Assistant Professor of English & Post-Colonial Literature, University of Southern Mississippi, has contributed essays to Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, Oral Literature in Africa Today, and Womanhood and (M)othering in African Literature.


"In this fascinating book Nfah-Abbenyi (Univ. of Southern Mississippi) offers a series of well-written, perceptive essays examining works of well-known African writers such as Buchi Emecheta, Bessie Head, Mariama Bâ (Ba) , Ama Ata Aidoo, and Tsitsi Dangarembga and a number of lesser-known African writers such as Calixthe Beyala, Delphine Zanga Tsogo, and Werewere Liking. Herself an African literary critic, the author takes a critical look at how African women writers coming from both Anglophone and Francophone traditions question and reinterpret the contradictions inherent in gender relations. Using African literary context and her own experiences growing up in Cameroon, she carefully examines feminist theories and how they relate to African literature. She discusses the issue of identity in the development of three major novels—Emecheta's Joys of Motherhood, Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, and Aidoo's Changes: A Love Story. She follows this with an examination of sexuality in the novels of three Cameroonian writers (Beyala, Zanga Tsogo, and Liking), and a comparative discussion of Head's Maru and two lesser-known novels. This book reaffirms Bessie Head's remark that books are a tool, in this case a tool that allows readers to understand better the rich lives and the condition of African women. Excellent notes and a rich bibliography. Upper-division undergraduates and above." —C. Pike, University of Minnesota , Choice , June 1998

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