The Postmodern Temper in African and African American Literature


African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships


Department of English


Some critical scholarships have classified contemporary African and African American novels as restrictively postcolonial and not experimental enough in the postmodern sense. Other positions designate postmodernism, with its subversion of modernist principles and values, as incompatible with postcolonial black experience. This study examines postmodern practice as a trope in African and African American novels with a view to establishing and justifying its innovative presence in contemporary times. Jean Francois Lyotard’s rejection of metanarratives and Jacques Derrida’s Deconstruction, complemented by Kwame Appiah’s critical reaction to postmodern thought, are adopted as pivotal postmodern theoretical approaches in critiquing three African novels — Dambudzo Marechera’s Black Sunlight, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and K. Sellor-Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams, and three African American novels — Nelson George’s Night Work, Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and Toni Morrison’s Home.