Realism and Suprarealism in African Literature, and, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa

Buoro, Stephen (2023) Realism and Suprarealism in African Literature, and, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis consists of two related parts. The first is an essay that examines realism and suprarealism (genres that ‘transcend’ realism) in African literature. The second is a novel that employs realistic and suprarealistic genres in exploring contemporary African identity.

The essay, ‘Realism and Suprarealism in African Literature’, interrogates literary realism in African literature, and presents a new methodology for reading African literary texts, one that provides an appreciation of and productive engagement with its ubiquitous suprarealistic genres (magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, among others). To this end, I examine the ‘genre conundrum’, whether the genre of realism, often imposed on African literature, can limn the suprarealistic materials at the heart of many African philosophies, cultures, and experiences. Using frameworks such as suprarealism intrusion, I posit that African writers have transculturated realism into a genre with a broader epistemological/ontological ambit. To illustrate this, I explore the operative techniques at play in realistic and suprarealistic African texts, and provide a reading of Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard and Okri’s The Famished Road. Finally, I examine the ‘suprarealistic spectrum’ in post/colonial African literature, and I argue that this spectrum is brought about by the liminality of the post/colonial African lifeworld.

The novel, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, employs the multiplicity of genres in African literature – empirical realism, quasi-suprarealism, magical realism, Afrofuturism, science fiction – in its exploration of identity, coming of age, religion, and migration in contemporary Nigeria. Set in Northern Nigeria, the novel follows Andy Aziza, a fifteen-year-old poet, who is obsessed with blondes. Andy falls in love with the first blonde he meets, Eileen, whom he sees as the ‘only Real Thing’ in Africa, ‘a continent of simulations’. Andy’s life becomes upended, and following a communal riot, he must confront a myriad of mysteries: his obsession with whiteness, the identity of his father, and the future of his country and continent.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2023 11:31
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 11:31

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