Contexts: New African Diaspora, Nigerian Literature, and the Global Literary Market

  • Maximilian Feldner
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This chapter aims to contextualize Nigerian diaspora literature. It is first concerned with the historical and sociological formation of the new African diaspora, which has developed in the largely voluntary migration movements to the United States and Europe that have been under way since the 1980s. Secondly, it considers Nigerian diaspora literature in the context of Nigerian literary traditions. Like the literature of their predecessors, the work of the diaspora writers is distinctly political, which is particularly expressed in their impetus for cultural nation building, that is, their contribution to the Nigerian imaginary. Thirdly, the chapter discusses the global literary market and the category of ‘African literature’. In order to get published, writers from Africa need to fulfil several requirements, including marginality, cultural difference, mobility/migration, and political engagement and resistance.


  1. Abani, Chris. 2004. GraceLand. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  2. Achebe, Chinua. 1964. The Role of the Writer in a New Nation. Nigeria Magazine 81: 157–160.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1984. The Trouble with Nigeria. London: Heinemann Educational Books.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1988. No Longer at Ease [1960]. Oxford: Heinemann International Publishing.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1990. Hopes and Impediments. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1994. Things Fall Apart [1958]. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  7. Adesanmi, Pius. 2006. Third Generation African Literatures and Contemporary Theorising. In The Study of Africa. Vol I. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Encounters, ed. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, 105–116. Dakar: CODESRIA.Google Scholar
  8. Adesanmi, Pius, and Chris Dunton. 2005. Nigeria’s Third Generation Writing: Historiography and Preliminary Theoretical Considerations. English in Africa 32 (1): 7–19.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2008. Introduction: Everything Good Is Raining: Provisional Notes on the Nigerian Novel of the Third Generation. Research in African Literatures 39 (2): vii–xii.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Adesokan, Akin. 2012. New African Writing and the Question of Audience. Research in African Literatures 43 (3): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. 2003. Purple Hibiscus. New York: Anchor.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2009a. Half of a Yellow Sun [2006]. London: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 2009b. The Thing Around Your Neck. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2014. Americanah [2013]. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  15. Afolabi, Segun. 2007. Goodbye Lucille. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  16. Ahmad, Aijaz. 1992. In Theory. Classes, Nations, Literatures. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  17. Akpome, Aghogho. 2017. Intertextuality and Influence: Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah (1987) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). Journal of Postcolonial Writing 53 (5): 530–542. Scholar
  18. Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism [1983]. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Anyanwu, Chikwendu. 2017. Corruption in Post-Independence Politics. Half of a Yellow Sun as a Reflection of A Man of the People. In A Companion to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ed. Ernest N. Emenyonu, 139–151. Woodbridge: James Currey.Google Scholar
  20. Arndt, Susan. 2009. Euro-African Trans-Spaces? – Migration, Transcultural Narration and Literary Studies. Matatu 36: 103–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Arthur John, A., Joseph Takougang, and Thomas Owusu. 2012. Searching for Promised Lands: Conceptualization of the African Diaspora in Migration. In Africans in Global Migration. Searching for Promised Lands, ed. John A. Arthur, Joseph Takougang, and Thomas Owusu, 1–8. Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  22. Atta, Sefi. 2008. Everything Good Will Come [2005]. Northampton: Interlink Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 2010a. News from Home. Northampton: Interlink Books.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2010b. Swallow. Northampton: Interlink Books.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2015. A Bit of Difference [2013]. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  26. Bedford, Simi. 1994. Yoruba Girl Dancing [1991]. Penguin Books: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  27. Bgoya, Walter, and Mary Jay. 2013. Publishing in Africa from Independence to the Present Day. Research in African Literatures 44 (2): 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Bhabha, Homi K. 2004. The Location of Culture [1994]. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Boehmer, Elleke. 2009. Achebe and His Influence in Some Contemporary African Writing. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 11 (2): 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 1996. The Rules of Art. Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Trans. Susan Emanuel. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Brouillette, Sarah. 2007. Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Brubaker, Rogers. 2005. The “Diaspora” Diaspora. Ethnic and Racial Studies 28 (1): 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Bryce, Jane. 2008. “Half and Half Children”: Third-Generation Women Writers and the New Nigerian Novel. Research in African Literatures 39 (2): 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Clifford, James. 1994. Diasporas. Cultural Anthropology 9 (3): 302–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Cohen, Robin. 1997. Global Diasporas: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Cole, Teju. 2012. Open City. London: Faber & Faber Ltd.Google Scholar
  38. ———. 2014. Every Day Is for the Thief [2007]. London: Faber & Faber Ltd.Google Scholar
  39. Dannenberg, Hilary. 2012. Narrating the Postcolonial Metropolis in Anglophone African Fiction: Chris Abani’s GraceLand and Phaswane Mpe’s Welcome to Our Hillbrow. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 48 (1): 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Doherty, Brian. 2014. Writing Back with A Difference: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘The Headstrong Historian’ as a Response to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Matatu 45: 187–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Edwards, Brent Hayes. 2007. Diaspora. In Keywords of American Cultural Studies. An Introduction, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, 81–84. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Egbunike, Louisa Uchum. 2014. One-Way Traffic. Renegotiating the “Been-To” Narrative in the Nigerian Novel in the Era of Military Rule. Matatu 45: 217–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ekwensi, Cyprian. 1961. Jagua Nana. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  44. Emecheta, Buchi. 1994. Second-Class Citizen [1974]. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  45. Emenyonu, Ernest N., ed. 2017. A Companion to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Woodbridge: James Currey.Google Scholar
  46. Evans, Diana. 2006. 26a [2005]. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  47. Falola, Toyin. 2014. African Diaspora. Slavery, Modernity and Globalization. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  48. Falola, Toyin, and Bukola Adeyemi Oyeniyi. 2015. Nigeria. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  49. Fanon, Frantz. 1990. The Wretched of the Earth [1961]. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  50. Griswold, Wendy. 2000. Bearing Witness. Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Habila, Helon. 2004. Waiting for an Angel [2002]. New York/London: Norton.Google Scholar
  52. ———. 2007. Measuring Time. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  53. Hall, Stuart. 1993. Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, 392–403. Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  54. Harrison, Sarah K. 2012. “Suspended City”: Personal, Urban, and National Development in Chris Abani’s Graceland. Research in African Literatures 43 (2): 95–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Hewett, Heather. 2005. Coming of Age: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Voice of the Third Generation. English in Africa 32 (1): 73–97.Google Scholar
  56. Highfield, Jonathan. 2013. Obscured by History: Language, Culture, and Conflict in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. In Cultural Encounters, ed. Nicholas Birns, 262–280. Ipswich: Salem Press.Google Scholar
  57. Hron, Madelaine. 2008. “Ora Na-Azu Nwa”: The Figure of the Child in Third-Generation Nigerian Novels. Research in African Literatures 39 (2): 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Huggan, Graham. 2001. The Postcolonial Exotic. Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  59. Jameson, Fredric. 1986. Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism. Social Text 5 (3): 65–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Julien, Eileen. 2006. The Extroverted African Novel. In The Novel. Volume 1. History, Geography, and Culture, ed. Franco Moretti, 667–700. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Kaba, Amadu Jacky. 2009. Africa’s Migration Brain Drain. Factors Contributing to the Mass Emigration of Africa’s Elite to the West. In The New African Diaspora, ed. Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu, 109–123. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Kalliney, Peter J. 2011. East African Literature and the Politics of Global Reading. In Literature and Globalization, ed. Liam Connell and Nicky Marsh, 298–314. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  63. Kom, Ambroise. 2007. African Absence, A Literature Without a Voice. In African Literature. An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, ed. Tejumola Olaniyan and Ato Quayson, 427–431. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  64. Lazarus, Neil. 2011. The Postcolonial Unconscious. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. ———. 2013. “Third Worldism” and the Political Imaginary of Postcolonial Studies. In The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Graham Huggan, 324–339. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Ndibe, Okey. 2014. Foreign Gods, Inc. New York: Soho.Google Scholar
  67. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. 2007. Writing Against Neo-Colonialism. In African Literature. An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, ed. Tejumola Olaniyan and Ato Quayson, 157–164. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  68. Nwaubani, Adaobi Tricia. 2009. I Do Not Come To You By Chance. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  69. Obioma, Chigozie. 2015. The Fishermen. New York: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  70. Oguine, Ike. 2000. A Squatter’s Tale. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  71. Okojie, Irenosen. 2015. Butterfly Fish. London: Jacaranda.Google Scholar
  72. Okuyade, Ogaga. 2011. Weaving Memories of Childhood: The New Nigerian Novel and the Genre of the Bildungsroman. Ariel 41 (3–4): 137–166.Google Scholar
  73. ———. 2014. Introduction: Familiar Realities, Continuity, and Shifts of Trajectory in the New African Novel. Matatu 45: ix–xxxii.Google Scholar
  74. Osirim, Mary Johnson. 2012. African Women in the New Diaspora: Transnationalism and the (Re)Creation of Home. In Africans in Global Migration. Searching for Promised Lands, ed. John A. Arthur, Joseph Takougang, and Thomas Owusu, 225–252. Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  75. Oyeyemi, Helen. 2005. The Icarus Girl. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  76. Pahl, Miriam. 2016. Afropolitanism as Critical Consciousness: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s and Teju Cole’s Internet Presence. Journal of African Cultural Studies 28 (1): 73–87. Scholar
  77. Phillips, Delores B. 2012. “What Do I Have to Do with All This?” Eating, Excreting, and Belonging in Chris Abani’s GraceLand. Postcolonial Studies 15 (1): 105–125. Scholar
  78. Pucherová, Dobrota. 2011. “A Continent Learns to Tell Its Story at Last”: Notes on the Caine Prize. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 48 (1): 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Quayson, Ato. 2013. Africa and Its Diasporas. In The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Graham Huggan, 628–647. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Safran, William. 1991. Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return. Diaspora 1 (1): 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Selasi, Taiye. 2013. Ghana Must Go. London: Viking.Google Scholar
  82. Smith, Anthony D. 1990. Towards a Global Culture? In Global Culture. Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, ed. Mike Featherstone, 171–192. London/Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  83. ———. 1991. National Identity. Reno: University of Nevada Press.Google Scholar
  84. Soyinka, Wole. 1970. The Interpreters [1965]. Oxford: Heinemann International.Google Scholar
  85. Sullivan, Joana. 2001. The Question of a National Literature for Nigeria. Research in African Literatures 32 (3): 71–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Takyi, Baffour K. 2009. Africans Abroad: Comparative Perspectives on America’s Postcolonial Africans. In The New African Diaspora, ed. Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu, 236–254. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Toivanen, Anna-Leena. 2016. The Unattainable Mediterranean: Arrested Clandestine Odysseys in Sefi Atta’s “Twilight Trek” and Marie NDiaye’s Trois femmes puissantes. Research in African Literatures 47 (4): 133–151. Scholar
  88. Tunca, Daria. 2012. Appropriating Achebe: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and “The Headstrong Historian”. In Adaptation and Cultural Appropriation: Literature, Film, and the Arts, ed. Pascal Nicklas and Oliver Lindner, 230–250. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  89. Tutuola, Amos. 1990. The Palm-Wine Drinkard and His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town [1952]. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  90. Unigwe, Chika. 2010. On Black Sister’s Street [2009]. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  91. Vanzanten, Susan. 2015. “The Headstrong Historian”: Writing with Things Fall Apart. Research in African Literatures 46 (2): 85–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Walkowitz, Rebecca. 2006. The Location of Literature: The Transnational Book and the Migrant Writer. Contemporary Literature 47 (4): 527–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. ———. 2009. Comparison Literature. New Literary History 40 (3): 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Wenske, Ruth. 2016. Adichie in Dialogue with Achebe: Balancing Dualities in Half of a Yellow Sun. Research in African Literatures 47 (3): 70–87. Scholar
  95. Young, Robert J.C. 2001. Postcolonialism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  96. Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe. 2009. Diaspora Dialogues. Engagements Between Africa and Its Diasporas. In The New African Diaspora, ed. Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu, 31–58. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maximilian Feldner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GrazGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations