Private Stories, Public Discourse: Textualizing Trauma in Recent Nigerian Women’s Fiction


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




This project focuses on the overwhelming thematic presence of women’s personal traumatic experiences and the boom in the articulation of sexuality in recent fiction by Nigerian women. The selected representative texts are Atta’s Everything Good Will Come, Kaine Agary’s Yellow Yellow, Lola Soneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, and Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl. The texts are set in dialogue with trauma theories, with emphasis on how the selected works operate as performative testimonies. The study anticipates the potential to interpret this new development in Nigerian literature as voicing repressed stories of trauma onto the palimpsest of canonical Nigerian fiction, which has yet to create enough space for them. It is hoped that this work can explain how textualizing trauma as public discourse questions the “national allegory” tradition while embracing and threatening the ostensibly stable and transparent dominant discourse of realism.