‘I can’t go forward; I must go back’

Ben Okri’s (p)anachronistic utopias

Authored by: Ian P. MacDonald

Routledge Handbook of African Literature

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN:
eBook ISBN: 9781315229546
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315229546-13

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Abstract

In 2010, Mark Bould, a key figure in the field of speculative fiction (sf), announced in his introduction to an African-sf-themed issue of the journal Paradoxa, ‘If African sf has not arrived, it is certainly approaching fast’ (7). The past several years have gone a long way to suggesting how fast, making it worth remarking that only a year before Bould’s assertion, American-Nigerian sf author and theorist Nnedi Okorafor (2009) asked on her blog, ‘Is Africa ready for science fiction?’, by which she meant, ‘Is an African reading public ready to show interest in sf topics generally and in an African-themed sf in particular?’ A number of examples of African sf and academic texts have since expanded the critical importance of an African sf. 1 Whether a substantial African readership of sf is emerging alongside the primary and secondary academic literature remains an open question, but as Bould (2017) notes elsewhere, African sf ‘by writers from Egypt, Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and from across the contemporary diaspora’ now dot the publishing landscape, implying increased interest both locally and globally in sf from an African perspective.

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