Beyond Diaspora and Nostalgia: M.G. Vassanji’s Asynchronous Images

Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


This chapter provides a reading of M.G. Vassanji’s 1989 novel The Gunny Sack. By focusing on the temporal dimension of the text, my reading aims to rethink the novel beyond the rubrics of diasporic identity and nostalgic feeling. Instead, the novel’s anti-teleological narrative strategies reveal a commitment to place and politics, which reframes the experience of modernity in East Africa as an uneven and violent process of incomplete synchronisation. Vassanji’s poetics is hence related to the wider political and historical background that connects his novel to the history of colonialism and anti-colonial resistance in East Africa, and the re-emergence of non-synchronic times within colonial modernity. The representation of the Maji Maji rebellion, in particular, represents one of the knots where archaic survivals disturb the transition to the colonial era.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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