AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Volume two : the slight bookcase: a novel

by David Nandi Odhiambo

Institution: University of Hawaii – Manoa
Year: 2016
Keywords: fiction; African-Canadian writing
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064658
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/101928


Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2010. The Slight Bookcase envisions African-Canadian writing metaphorically. The Latin word metaphora is translated as carrying over, and my project, a faux-spiritual autobiography, invokes this use of the word as a site upon which meaning is in the process of being transferred, or carried over, from one state to another. This process requires a close reading to be cognizant of how binaries such as black or white, self or other are situated in the text as a synecdoche – one is a part of the other, doubles are parts of a whole, and understanding occurs at the level of simultaneity. Jonah, the protagonist, is both WaSimbi and Jinjabi – two tribes involved in a civil war in the fictional country of Liwani-he is black and he struggles with untidy desire for a woman who is white, and he moves from Africa to live in different places in the U.S. The result is a text that does not represent, but rather explores multiple shades of meanings and paradoxes evident in this undulating linguistic topography. Boundaries aren't static. Instead, they are permeated by the encounter of the reader with the foreign, the uncanny, and the unfamiliar. As such, the work doesn't fit neatly within an idea of either protest or a national literature that makes arguments about the black communities place in the larger Canadian mosaic, or give voice to a contemporary African-Canadian condition that is multi-cultural and at odds with the mainstream culture. It is written in the twenty-first century by a Kenyan-Canadian – another bi-nary-and incorporates as well as deviates from these models in an effort to fashion a kunstlerroman envisioned as the first part of a multi-volume work modeled in its scale on The Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, a French man writing at the beginning of the twentieth century. The doubling inherent in this connection evokes the evolution of a developing narrator who is in the process of learning to write his own story out of reminiscences of the past.