How does a postcolonial novel become a bestseller? Does it need an engaging plot, haunting characters, or a magnetic style? Is it invariably required to market the margins for consumption at the center? This talk asks which African and South Asian fictions are equipped to resonate with global reading markets in both high and low registers. Novels such as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (2003), and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) successfully navigate Nigeria’s colonial legacies and Afghanistan’s neo-colonial present by using pancolonial allegories which invite readers to recognize the continuities between past and ongoing imperial projects. The talk examines the different solutions the three writers propose to the dilemma of wanting to be precise chroniclers of national history while writing timeless, portable narratives across languages and borders. In line with the dictum that ‘sex sells,’ the guiding argument will be that Achebe, Hosseini, and Adichie alternatively uphold and subvert blockbuster relationship tropes of Western culture in an attempt to inscribe the logic of colonialism into the politics of gender.
Dr. Georgiana Banita is a Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation at the Trimberg Research Academy, University of Bamberg. She is the author of Plotting Justice: Narrative Ethics and Literary Culture after 9/11 (2012) and co-editor of Electoral Cultures: American Democracy and Choice (2015). Current projects include a study of historical and current tensions between African American communities and the police, a collection of essays on the work and cultural impact of Art Spiegelman, and a photo book that documents the European refugee crisis.
The event is free and open to the public.
This lecture is organized by the Department of American Studies.
Department of American Studies Graz
Institut für Amerikanistik