Postcolonial literature is the literature of countries that were colonised, mainly by European countries. It exists on all continents except Antarctica. Postcolonial literature often addresses the problems and consequences of the decolonization of a country, especially questions relating to the political and cultural independence of formerly subjugated people, and themes such as racialism and colonialism. A range of literary theory has evolved around the subject.
Migrant literature and postcolonial literature show some considerable overlap. However, not all migration takes place in a colonial setting, and not all postcolonial literature deals with migration. A question of current debate is the extent to which postcolonial theory also speaks to migration literature in non-colonial settings.
Amongst prominent theorists are Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, Bill Ashcroft, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Chinua Achebe, Leela Gandhi, Gareth Griffiths, Abiola Irele, John McLeod, Hamid Dabashi, Helen Tiffin, Khal Torabully, and Robert Young. Another important theorist is Harvard University professor Homi K Bhabha, (1949 – ). He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has developed a number of the field's neologisms and key concepts, such as hybridity, mimicry, difference, and ambivalence.
Frantz Omar Fanon (1925 – 1961) was a Martinique-born Afro-Caribbeanpsychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism. As an intellectual, Fanon was a political radical, Pan-Africanist, and a Marxisthumanist concerned with the psychopathology of colonization, and the human, social, and cultural consequences of decolonization.
Post-colonial literary theory re-examines colonial literature, especially concentrating upon the social discourse, between the colonizer and the colonized, that shaped and produced the literature. In Orientalism (1978), Edward Saïd analyzed the fiction of Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, and Lautréamont (Isidore-Lucien Ducasse), and explored how they were influenced, and how they helped to shape the societal fantasy of European racial superiority. Post-colonial fiction writers deal with the traditional colonial discourse, either by modifying or by subverting it, or both.
The “anti-conquest narrative” recasts the indigenous inhabitants of colonized countries as victims rather than foes of the colonisers. This depicts the colonised people in a more human light but risks absolving colonisers of responsibility for addressing the effects of colonisation by assuming that native inhabitants were "doomed" to their fate.
Mary Pratt, however, proposes a completely different theorization of "anti-conquest" than the ideas discussed here, that can be traced to Edward Said. Instead of referring to how natives resist colonization or are victims of it, Pratt analyzes European literatures in which a European narrates their adventures and struggles to survive in the land of the non-European Other. The anti-conquest is a function of how the narrator writes him or her self out of being responsible for or an agent, direct or indirect, of colonization and colonialism. This different notion of anti-conquest is used to analyze the ways in which colonialism and colonization are legitimized nonetheless through entertaining stories of survival and adventure. Pratt created this unique notion in association with concepts of contact zone and transculturation, which have been very well received in Latin America social and human science circles.Négritude is a literary and ideological philosophy, developed by francophone African intellectuals, writers, and politicians in France during the 1930s. Its initiators included Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor (a future President of Senegal), and Léon Damas of French Guiana. Négritude intellectuals disapproved of French colonialism and claimed that the best strategy to oppose it was to encourage a common racial identity for native Africans worldwide.
Back to Africa movement
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. (1887 – 1940), was a Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). He also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.
Prior to the 20th century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement (some sects of which proclaim Garvey as a prophet).
Postcolonial feminist literature
Postcolonial feminism is a form of feminism that developed as a response to the fact that feminism seemed to focus solely on the experiences of women in Western cultures. Postcolonial feminism seeks to account for the way that racism and the long-lasting political, economic, and cultural effects of colonialism affect non-white, non-Western women in the postcolonial world.
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the context, it may refer to countries and islands with common Austronesian origins, islands once or currently colonized, or Oceania.
There is a burgeoning group of young pacific writers who respond and speak to the contemporary Pasifika experience, including writers Lani Wendt Young, Courtney Sina Meredith and Selina Tusitala Marsh, among others. Reclamation of culture, loss of culture, diaspora, all themes common to postcolonial literature, are present within the collective Pacific writers. Pioneers within the literature include Witi Ihimaera, from New Zealand, the first published Māori novelist. and Samoan poet Albert Wendt (1939 – ), two of the most influential living authors from this region. Wendt lives in New Zealand. Among his works is Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979). Wendt is of German heritage through his paternal great-grandfather, which is reflected in some of his poems. However, Wendt describes his family heritage as "totally Samoan", even though he has a German surname, but he does not explicitly deny his German heritage.
Another notable figure from the region is Sia Figiel (1967 ), a contemporary Samoannovelist, poet, and painter, whose debut novel Where We Once Belonged won the Commonwealth Writers' PrizeBest First Book of 1997,South East Asia and South Pacific Region. Sia Figiel grew up amidst traditional Samoan singing and poetry, which heavily influenced her writing. Figiel's greatest influence and inspiration in her career is the Samoan novelist and poet, Albert Wendt.
Main article: Australian literature § Aboriginal writers and themes
At the point of the first colonization, Indigenous Australians had not developed a system of writing, so the first literary accounts of aborigines come from the journals of early European explorers, which contain descriptions of first contact, both violent and friendly. Early accounts by Dutch explorers and the English buccaneer William Dampier wrote of the "natives of New Holland" as being "barbarous savages", but by the time of Captain James Cook and First Fleet marine Watkin Tench (the era of Jean-Jacques Rousseau), accounts of aborigines were more sympathetic and romantic: "these people may truly be said to be in the pure state of nature, and may appear to some to be the most wretched upon the earth; but in reality they are far happier than ... we Europeans", wrote Cook in his journal on 23 August 1770.
While his father, James Unaipon (c.1835-1907), contributed to accounts of aboriginal mythology written by the missionary George Taplin,David Unaipon (1872–1967) provided the first accounts of aboriginal mythology written by an aboriginal: Legendary Tales of the Aborigines. For this he is known as the first Aboriginal author. Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920–1995) (born Kath Walker) was an Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator. She was also a campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Oodgeroo was best known for her poetry, and was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse We Are Going (1964).
Sally Morgan's novel My Place (1987) was considered a breakthrough memoir in terms of bringing indigenous stories to wider notice. Leading aboriginal activists Marcia Langton (First Australians, 2008) and Noel Pearson (Up From the Mission, 2009) are active contemporary contributors to Australian literature.
The voices of Indigenous Australians are being increasingly noticed and include the playwrightJack Davis and Kevin Gilbert. Writers coming to prominence in the 21st century include Kim Scott, Alexis Wright, Kate Howarth Tara June Winch, in poetry Yvette Holt and in popular fiction Anita Heiss.
Indigenous authors who have won Australia's high prestige Miles Franklin Award include Kim Scott who was joint winner (with Thea Astley) in 2000 for Benang and again in 2011 for That Deadman Dance.Alexis Wright won the award in 2007 for her novel Carpentaria.
Many notable works have been written by non-indigenous Australians on aboriginal themes. Eleanor Dark's (1901–1985) The Timeless Land (1941) is the first of The Timeless Land trilogy of novels about European settlement and exploration of Australia. The narrative is told from English and Aboriginal points of view. The novel begins with two Aboriginal men watching the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1788. Other examples include the poems of Judith Wright, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally, Ilbarana by Donald Stuart, and the short story by David Malouf: "The Only Speaker of his Tongue".
Main article: African literature
See also: Kenyan literature and Literature of Madagascar
Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1901– 1991) a Malian writer and ethnologist, and Ayi Kwei Armah (1939 – ) from Ghanaian, author of Two Thousand Seasons have tried to establish an African perspective to their own history. Another significant African novel is Season of Migration to the North by Tayib Salih from the Sudan.
Doris Lessing (1919 – 2013) from Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, published her first novel The Grass is Singing in 1950, after immigrating to England. She initially wrote about her African experiences. Lessing soon became a dominant presence in the English literary scene, frequently publishing right through the century, and won the nobel prize for literature in 2007. Yvonne Vera (1964 – 2005) was an award-winning author from Zimbabwe. Her novels are known for their poetic prose, difficult subject-matter, and their strong women characters, and are firmly rooted in Zimbabwe's difficult past. Tsitsi Dangarembga (1959 – ) is notable Zimbabwean author and filmmaker.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (1938 – ) is a Kenyan writer, formerly working in English and now working in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children's literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri.
Bate Besong (1954 – 2007) was a Cameroonian playwright, poet and critic, who was described by Pierre Fandio as “one of the most representative and regular writers of what might be referred to as the second generation of the emergent Cameroonian literature in English". Other Cameroonian playwrights are Anne Tanyi-Tang, and Bole Butake.
Nigerian authorChinua Achebe (1930 – 13) gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s. Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a thoroughgoing racist". A titled Igbo chieftain himself, Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections.
Wole Soyinka (1934 – ) is a playwright and poet, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honored in that category. Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. After study in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria's political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections. In 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.
Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country's many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it".
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977) is a novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer. A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Adichie has been called "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".
Buchi EmechetaOBE (1944 – 2017 ) is a Nigerian novelist based in Britain who has published more than 20 books, including Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977) and The Joys of Motherhood (1979). Her themes of child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education have won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an Order of the British Empire
See also: South African poetry
Elleke Boehmer (cf. Cullhed, 2006: 79) writes, “Nationalism, like patriarchy, favours singleness—one identity, one growth pattern, one birth and blood for all ... [and] will promote specifically unitary or ‘one-eyed’ forms of consciousness.” The first problem any student of South African literature is confronted with, is the diversity of the literary systems. Gerrit Olivier notes, "While it is not unusual to hear academics and politicians talk about a 'South African literature', the situation at ground level is characterised by diversity and even fragmentation". Robert Mossman adds that "One of the enduring and saddest legacies of the apartheid system may be that no one – White, Black, Coloured (meaning of mixed-race in South Africa), or Asian – can ever speak as a "South African." The problem, however, pre-dates Apartheid significantly, as South Africa is a country made up of communities that have always been linguistically and culturally diverse. These cultures have all retained autonomy to some extent, making a compilation such as the controversial Southern African Literatures by Michael Chapman, difficult. Chapman raises the question:
[W]hose language, culture, or story can be said to have authority in South Africa when the end of apartheid has raised challenging questions as to what it is to be a South African, what it is to live in a new South Africa, whether South Africa is a nation, and, if so, what its mythos is, what requires to be forgotten and what remembered as we scour the past in order to understand the present and seek a path forward into an unknown future.
South Africa has 11 national languages: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Pedi, Tswana, Venda, SiSwati, Tsonga, and Ndebele. Any definitive literary history of South Africa should, it could be argued, discuss literature produced in all eleven languages. But the only literature ever to adopt characteristics that can be said to be "national" is Afrikaans. Olivier argues: "Of all the literatures in South Africa, Afrikaans literature has been the only one to have become a national literature in the sense that it developed a clear image of itself as a separate entity, and that by way of institutional entrenchment through teaching, distribution, a review culture, journals, etc. it could ensure the continuation of that concept." Part of the problem is that English literature has been seen within the greater context of English writing in the world, and has, because of English's global position as lingua franca, not been seen as autonomous or indigenous to South Africa – in Olivier’s words: "English literature in South Africa continues to be a sort of extension of British or international English literature." The African languages, on the other hand, are spoken across the borders of Southern Africa - for example, Tswana is spoken in Botswana, and Tsonga in Zimbabwe, and Sotho in Lesotho. South Africa's borders were drawn up by the British Empire and, as with all other colonies, these borders were drawn without regard for the people living within them. Therefore: in a history of South African literature, do we include all Tswana writers, or only the ones with South African citizenship? Chapman bypasses this problem by including "Southern" African literatures. The second problem with the African languages is accessibility, because since the African languages are regional languages, none of them can claim the readership on a national scale comparable to Afrikaans and English. Sotho, for instance, while transgressing the national borders of the RSA, is on the other hand mainly spoken in the Free State, and bears a great amount of relation to the language of Natal for example, Zulu. So the language cannot claim a national readership, while on the other hand being "international" in the sense that it transgresses the national borders.
Olivier argues that "There is no obvious reason why it should be unhealthy or abnormal for different literatures to co-exist in one country, each possessing its own infrastructure and allowing theoreticians to develop impressive theories about polysystems". Yet political idealism proposing a unified "South Africa" (a remnant of the colonial British approach) has seeped into literary discourse and demands a unified national literature, which does not exist and has to be fabricated. It is unrealistic to ever think of South Africa and South African literature as homogenous, now or in the near or distant future, since the only reason it is a country at all is the interference of European colonial powers. This is not a racial issue, but rather has to do with culture, heritage and tradition (and indeed the constitution celebrates diversity). Rather, it seems more sensible to discuss South African literature as literature produced within the national borders by the different cultures and language groups inhabiting these borders. Otherwise the danger is emphasising one literary system at the expense of another, and more often than not, the beneficiary is English, with the African languages being ignored. The distinction "black" and "white" literature is further a remnant of colonialism that should be replaced by drawing distinctions between literary systems based on language affiliation rather than race.
The first texts produced by black authors were often inspired by missionaries and frequently deal with African history, in particular the history of kings such as Chaka. Modern South African writing in the African languages tends to play at writing realistically, at providing a mirror to society, and depicts the conflicts between rural and urban settings, between traditional and modern norms, racial conflicts and most recently, the problem of AIDS.
In the first half of the 20th century, epics largely dominated black writing: historical novels, such as Sol T. Plaatje’s Mhudi: An Epic of South African Native Life a Hundred Years Ago (1930), Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka (trans. 1925), and epic plays including those of H. I. E. Dhlomo, or heroic epic poetry such as the work of Mazizi Kunene. These texts “evince black African patriarchy in its traditional form, with men in authority, often as warriors or kings, and women as background figures of dependency, and/or mothers of the nation” (Cullhed, 2006: 21). Female literature in the African languages is severely limited because of the strong influence of patriarchy, but over the last decade or two society has changed much and it can be expected that more female voices will emerge.
The following are notable white South African writers in English: Athol Fugard, Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee, and Wilbur Smith. André Brink has written in both Afrikaans and English while Breyten Breytenbach writes primarily in Afrikaans, though many of their works have been translated into English. Dalene Matthee's (1938 – 2005) is another Afrikaner, best known for her four Forest Novels, written in and around the Knysna Forest, including Fiela se Kind (1985) (Fiela's Child). Her books have been translated into fourteen languages, including English, French, and German. and over a million copies have been sold worldwide.
Main article: Latin American literature
Main articles: Caribbean literature and West Indian literature
Maryse Condé (1937 – ) is a French (Guadeloupean) author of historical fiction, best known for her novel Segu (1984–1985).
An exemplar post-colonial novel is Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys (1890 – 1979), a mid-twentieth century novelist who was born and grew up in the Caribbean island of Dominica, though she was mainly resident in England from the age of 16. This novel is based on Jane Eyre (1847), by Charlotte Brontë, re-told from the perspective of a subaltern protagonist, Antoinette Conway. It is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a white Creole heiress, from the time of her youth in Jamaica, to her unhappy marriage to a certain English gentleman—he is never named by the author. He renames her to a prosaic Bertha, declares her mad, and requires her to relocate to England. Caught in an oppressive patriarchal society in which she fully belongs neither to the white Europeans nor the black Jamaicans, Cosway is Rhys' version of Brontë's devilish "madwoman in the attic." As with many postcolonial works, the novel deals with the themes of racial inequality and the harshness of displacement and assimilation. It is also concerned with power relations between men and women.
The term "West Indies" first began to achieve wide currency in the 1950s, when writers such as Samuel Selvon, John Hearne, Edgar Mittelholzer, V.S. Naipaul, and George Lamming began to be published in the United Kingdom. A sense of a single literature developing across the islands was also encouraged in the 1940s by the BBC radio programme Caribbean Voices, which featured stories and poems written by West Indian authors, recorded in London under the direction of producer Henry Swanzy, and broadcast back to the islands. Magazines such as Kyk-Over-Al in Guyana, Bim in Barbados, and Focus in Jamaica, which published work by writers from across the region, also encouraged links and helped build an audience.
Many—perhaps most—West Indian writers have found it necessary to leave their home territories and base themselves in the United Kingdom, the United States, or Canada in order to make a living from their work—in some cases spending the greater parts of their careers away from the territories of their birth. Critics in their adopted territories might argue that, for instance, V. S. Naipaul ought to be considered a British writer instead of a Trinidadian writer, or Jamaica Kincaid and Paule Marshall American writers, but most West Indian readers and critics still consider these writers "West Indian".
West Indian literature ranges over subjects and themes as wide as those of any other "national" literature, but in general many West Indian writers share a special concern with questions of identity, ethnicity, and language that rise out of the Caribbean historical experience.
One unique and pervasive characteristic of Caribbean literature is the use of "dialect" forms of the national language, often termed creole. The various local variations in the language adopted from the colonial powers such as Britain, Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands, have been modified over the years within each country and each has developed a blend that is unique to their country. Many Caribbean authors in their writing switch liberally between the local variation - now commonly termed nation language - and the standard form of the language. Two West Indian writers have won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Derek Walcott (1992), born in St. Lucia, resident mostly in Trinidad during the 1960s and '70s, and partly in the United States since then; and V. S. Naipaul, born in Trinidad and resident in the United Kingdom since the 1950. (Saint-John Perse, who won the Nobel Prize in 1960, was born in the French territory of Guadeloupe.)
Other notable names in (anglophone) Caribbean literature have included Earl Lovelace, Austin Clarke, Claude McKay, Orlando Patterson, Andrew Salkey, Edward Kamau Brathwaite (who was born in Barbados and has lived in Ghana and Jamaica), Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Michelle Cliff, to name only a few. In more recent times, a number of literary voices have emerged from the Caribbean as well as the Caribbean diaspora, including Kittitian Caryl Phillips (who has lived in the UK since one month of age), Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian immigrant to the United States; Anthony Kellman from Barbados, who divides his time between Barbados and the United States; Andrea Levy of the United Kingdom, Jamaicans Colin Channer and Marlon James, the author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) (as well as John Crow's Devil, The Book of Night Women, the unpublished screenplay "Dead Men", and the short story "Under Cover of Darkness"), Antiguan Marie-Elena John, and Lasana M. Sekou from St. Maarten/St. Martin.
Earl Lovelace (1935 – ) is an award-winning Trinidadiannovelist, journalist, playwright, and short story writer. He is particularly recognized for his descriptive, dramatic fiction on Trinidadian culture: "Using Trinidadian dialect patterns and standard English, he probes the paradoxes often inherent in social change as well as the clash between rural and urban cultures." As Bernardine Evaristo notes, "Lovelace is unusual among celebrated Caribbean writers in that he has always lived in Trinidad. Most writers leave to find support for their literary endeavours elsewhere and this, arguably, shapes the literature, especially after long periods of exile. But Lovelace's fiction is deeply embedded in Trinidadian society and is written from the perspective of one whose ties to his homeland have never been broken."
AmericanDavid Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly addresses the Western perspective on China and the French as well as the American perspectives on Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.
Maxine Hong Kingston (1940– ) is a Chinese American author who has written three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United States.
Bharati Mukherjee although of East Indian ancestry has gone on record that she considers herself an American writer, and not an Indian expatriate writer. In a 1989 interview with Amanda Meer, Mukherjee said: "I totally consider myself an American writer, and that has been my big battle: to get to realize that my roots as a writer are no longer, if they ever were, among Indian writers, but that I am writing about the territory about the feelings, of a new kind of pioneer here in America. I’m the first among Asian immigrants to be making this distinction between immigrant writing and expatriate writing. Most Indian writers prior to this, have still thought of themselves as Indians, and their literary inspiration, has come from India. India has been the source, and home. Whereas I’m saying, those are wonderful roots, but now my roots are here and my emotions are here in North America."
Jhumpa Lahiri (1967 –) is an Indian-American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999) won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name.
Throughout American history, African Americans have been discriminated against and subject to racist attitudes. This experience inspired some Black writers, at least during the early years of African-American literature, to prove they were the equals of European-American authors. As Henry Louis Gates, Jr, has said, "it is fair to describe the subtext of the history of black letters as this urge to refute the claim that because blacks had no written traditions they were bearers of an inferior culture."
By refuting the claims of the dominant culture, African-American writers were also attempting to subvert the literary and power traditions of the United States. Some scholars assert that writing has traditionally been seen as "something defined by the dominant culture as a white male activity." This means that, in American society, literary acceptance has traditionally been intimately tied in with the very power dynamics which perpetrated such evils as racial discrimination. By borrowing from and incorporating the non-written oral traditions and folk life of the African diaspora, African-American literature broke "the mystique of connection between literary authority and patriarchal power." In producing their own literature, African Americans were able to establish their own literary traditions devoid of the white intellectual filter. This view of African-American literature as a tool in the struggle for Black political and cultural liberation has been stated for decades, perhaps most famously by W. E. B. Du Bois.
Giannina Braschi (1953) is a Puerto Rican writer, who is credited with writing the first Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), the post-modern poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams (1994), and the philosophical fictionUnited States of Banana (2011), which chronicles the Latin Americanimmigrants' experiences in the United States and the Puerto Rican battle with Spanish and American colonialism.
Native American Renaissance
Native American Renaissance is a term originally coined by critic Kenneth Lincoln in the 1983 book Native American Renaissance to categorise the significant increase in production of literary works by Native Americans in the United States in the late 1960s onwards. A. Robert Lee and Alan Velie note that the book's title "quickly gained currency as a term to describe the efflorescence on literary works that followed the publication of N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn in 1968". Momaday's novel garnered critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969.
The Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is a post-colonial writer who dealt with themes of identity-seeking through her Southern Ontario Gothic style of writing.
Canadian Michael Ondaatje, is an internationally acclaimed author with Sri Lankan roots, which he has explored in works like Running in the Family (1983) and The Cat's Table (2011).
Cyril Dabydeen (1945 – ) is a Guyana-born, Canadian writer of Indian descent. He grew up in a sugar plantation with the sense of Indian indenture rooted in his family background.
West Asia: The Middle East
See also Egyptian literature, Iraqi literature, Syrian literature, and Palestinian literature
Major figures are Naguib Mahfouz the Egyptian novelist, and Edward Said an eminent Palestinian scholar who has written especially on the topic of Orientalism. According to Said's work "the Orient" is a term constructed as the inferior shadow to the civilized and powerful West, the Occident. Its supposed inferiority is explained in racial terms. The Egyptian Revolution of 1919, against British rule in Egypt and the Sudan, had a strong effect on Mahfouz, although he was at the time only seven years old. From the window he often saw British soldiers firing at the demonstrators, men and women. "You could say [...] that the one thing which most shook the security of my childhood was the 1919 revolution", he later said.
South and Southeast Asia
Philippine literature includes the legends of prehistory, and the colonial legacy of the Philippines. Pre-Hispanic Philippine literature were actually epics passed on from generation to generation originally through oral tradition. However, wealthy families, especially in Mindanao were able to keep transcribed copies of these epics as family heirloom. One such epic was the Darangen, epic of the Maranaos of Lake Lanao. Most of the epics were known during the Spanish era.
Most of the notable literature of the Philippines was written during the Spanish period and the first half of the 20th century in the Spanish language. Philippine literature is written in Spanish, English, or any indigenous Philippine languages. Notable authors include F. Sionil José, Jose Dalisay, Jr., N. V. M. Gonzalez and Nick Joaquin.
Main article: Indonesian literature
Dutch East Indies
Dutch Indies literature includes Dutch language postcolonial literature reflecting on the era of the Dutch East Indies (now: Indonesia). Much of the postcolonial literature of this genre is written by Dutch Eurasians known as Indos. Important authors that have been translated to English include, Tjalie Robinson, Maria Dermout, and Marion Bloem.
Bonny Hicks (1968 – 1997) was a SingaporeEurasian model and writer. After garnering fame as a model, she gained recognition for her contributions to Singaporean post-colonial literature and for the anthropic philosophy conveyed in her works. Her first book, Excuse Me, Are You A Model?, is recognised as a significant milestone in the literary and cultural history of Singapore.
One of the key issues is the superiority/inferiority of Indian Writing in English as opposed to the literary production in the various languages of India. Key polar concepts bandied in this context are superficial/authentic, imitative/creative, shallow/deep, critical/uncritical, elitist/parochial and so on.
The views of Salman Rushdie and Amit Chaudhuri expressed through their books The Vintage Book of Indian Writing and The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature respectively essentialise this battle. Rushdie's statement in his book – "the ironic proposition that India's best writing since independence may have been done in the language of the departed imperialists is simply too much for some folks to bear" – created a lot of resentment among many writers, including writers in English. In his book, Amit Chaudhuri questions – "Can it be true that Indian writing, that endlessly rich, complex and problematic entity, is to be represented by a handful of writers who write in English, who live in England or America and whom one might have met at a party?"
Chaudhuri feels that after Rushdie, Indian writing in English started employing magical realism, bagginess, non-linear narrative and hybrid language to sustain themes seen as microcosms of India and supposedly reflecting Indian conditions. He contrasts this with the works of earlier writers such as R. K. Narayan where the use of English is pure, but the deciphering of meaning needs cultural familiarity. He also feels that Indianness is a theme constructed only in IWE and does not articulate itself in the vernacular literatures. He further adds "the post-colonial novel, becomes a trope for an ideal hybridity by which the West celebrates not so much Indianness, whatever that infinitely complex thing is, but its own historical quest, its reinterpretation of itself".
Some of these arguments form an integral part of what is called postcolonial theory. The very categorisation of IWE – as IWE or under post-colonial literature – is seen by some as limiting. Amitav Ghosh made his views on this very clear by refusing to accept the Eurasian Commonwealth Writers Prize for his book The Glass Palace in 2001 and withdrawing it from the subsequent stage.
The renowned writer V. S. Naipaul, a third generation Indian from Trinidad and Tobago and a Nobel prize laureate, is a person who belongs to the world and usually not classified under IWE. Naipaul evokes ideas of homeland, rootlessness and his own personal feelings towards India in many of his books.
Indian authors like Amitav Ghosh, Anita Desai, Hanif Kureishi, Rohinton Mistry, Meena Alexander, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai have written about their postcolonial experiences.
The most significant novels of the current generation of Indian novelists in Urdu are Makaan by Paigham Afaqui (1956 – ), Do Gaz Zameen by Abdus Samad, and Pani by Ghazanfer. These works, especially Makaan, has moved the Urdu novel beyond the prevalent themes relating to Pakistan's gaining of independence in 1947, and identity issues, and take it into modern-day realities and issues of life in India. Makaan influenced many English writers including Vikram Seth. Paigham Afaqui's second major novel, Paleeta, was published in 2011 and depicts the political cynicism of a common Indian citizen in the six decades after India's independence.
The Hungry Generation was a literary movement in the Bengali language launched by what is known today as the "Hungryalist quartet", i.e.Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy (alias Haradhon Dhara), during the 1960s in Kolkata, India. Due to their involvement in this avant garde cultural movement, the leaders lost their jobs and were jailed by the incumbent government. They challenged contemporary ideas about literature and contributed significantly to the evolution of the language and idiom used by contemporaneous artists to express their feelings in literature and painting.
Nissim Ezekiel (1924 – 2004) was a foundational figure in postcolonial India's literary history, specifically for Indian writing in English.
Mahashweta Devi (1926 – 2016) is an Indian social activist and writer. n
Sri Lankan writers like Nihal De Silva and Carl Muller write about the post-colonial situation and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. See also Michael Ondaatje under Canada.
Main articles: Bangladeshi English literature and Bangladeshi folk literature
Selim Al Deen from Bangladesh has also written postcolonial drama.
The novels of J. G. Farrell are important texts dealing with the collapse of the British Empire. Troubles, is set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921), and is the first instalment in Farrell's "Empire Trilogy", preceding The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip, all written during the 1970s. Although there are similar themes within the three novels (most notably that of the British Empire), they do not form a sequence of storytelling. The Siege of Krishnapurn was inspired by events such as the sieges of Siege of Cawnpore (Kanpur) and Lucknow, and details the siege of a fictional Indian town, Krishnapur, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 from the perspective of the British residents. The Singapore Grip is satirical
By definition, postcolonialism is a period of time after colonialism, and postcolonial literature is typically characterized by its opposition to the colonial. However, some critics have argued that any literature that expresses an opposition to colonialism, even if it is produced during a colonial period, may be defined as postcolonial, primarily due to its oppositional nature. Postcolonial literature often focuses on race relations and the effects of racism and usually indicts white and/or colonial societies. Despite a basic consensus on the general themes of postcolonial writing, however, there is ongoing debate regarding the meaning of postcolonialism. Many critics now propose that the term should be expanded to include the literatures of Canada, the United States, and Australia. In his essay discussing the nature and boundaries of postcolonialism, Simon During argues for a more inclusive definition, calling it “the need, in nations, or groups which have been victims of imperialism to achieve an identity uncontaminated by universalist or Eurocentric concepts or images.” The scale and scope of modern European imperialism, as well as its extraordinarily organized character, including the cultural licensing of racial domination, has sometimes led to the perception of colonization as a modern phenomenon. In fact, many critics propose that modern colonialism was not a discrete occurrence and that an examination of premodern colonial activities will allow for a greater and more complex understanding of modern structures of power and domination, serving to illuminate the operation of older histories in the context of both modern colonialism and contemporary race and global political relations.
Works of literature that are defined as postcolonial often record racism or a history of genocide, including slavery, apartheid, and the mass extinction of peoples, such as the Aborigines in Australia. Critical response to these texts is often seen as an important way to articulate and negotiate communication between writers who define themselves as postcolonial and critics who are not part of that experience. In her introduction to Post-Colonial and African American Women's Writing, published in 2000, Gina Wisker notes that the indictment present in many postcolonial texts tends to produce guilt or feelings of inherited complicity in many readers. Also, although writing about these texts may raise the level of awareness of both the texts and their writers, some postcolonial writers see reflected in this activity an arrogant assumption about the need for noncolonial cultures to recognize postcolonial writers. Similarly, other critics have noted that critical response that focuses entirely on the essential nature of black or Asian writers may also serve to marginalize their writing by supposing their experiences as largely a product of being “other” than European.
Postcolonialism includes a vast array of writers and subjects. In fact, the very different geographical, historical, social, religious, and economic concerns of the different ex-colonies dictate a wide variety in the nature and subject of most postcolonial writing. Wisker has noted in her book that it is even simplistic to theorize that all postcolonial writing is resistance writing. In fact, many postcolonial writers themselves will argue that their countries are still very much colonial countries, both in terms of their values and behaviors, and that these issues are reflected in their work. In her essay on postcolonialism, Deepika Bahri agrees, noting that while the definition of postcolonialism may be fairly boundaried, the actual use of the term is very subjective, allowing for a yoking together of a very diverse range of experiences, cultures, and problems. This diversity of definitions exists, notes Bahri, because the term postcolonialism is used both as a literal description of formerly colonial societies and as a description of global conditions after a period of colonialism. In this regard, according to Bahri, the notion of the “postcolonial” as a literary genre and an academic construct may have meanings that are completely separate from a historical moment or time period.
Some women colonial writers draw a relationship between postcolonialism and feminism. For many of these writers, who live in strong patriarchal cultures, language and the ability to write and communicate represent power. Some of these writers, for example, have noted that since the language of British-ruled colonies is English, literature written in English has often been used to marginalize and constrain female points of view. In the postcolonial period, however, language, and the ability to speak, write, and publish, has become an enabling tool for postcolonial authors.