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Type: Journal article
Title: Abdulrazak Gurnah’s fictions of the Swahili coast: littoral locations and amphibian aesthetics
Author: Samuelson, M.
Citation: Social Dynamics, 2012; 38(3):499-515
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 0253-3952
Statement of
Meg Samuelson
Abstract: Michael Pearson has remarked that a “history of the ocean needs to be amphibious, moving easily between land and sea.” This article takes up his challenge within the field of literary studies, while drawing also on his notion of “littoral society,” as it engages what it describes as an amphibian aesthetic in the oeuvre of the Zanzibari-British novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah. It argues that the oeuvre inscribes the layered and ambivalent histories of the Swahili coast – the entanglements produced by the monsoon regime; the slave trade; Portuguese, Omani, German and British imperial designs; independence and the Zanzibar revolution – through a dual orientation fostered by the littoral. From the vantage point of the beach it presents nuanced reflections on the act of telling stories about Indian Ocean Africa that emphasise implication rather than transcendence and which are articulated through perspectival shifts and novelistic dialogism.
Keywords: Abdulrazak Gurnah; Indian Ocean; Zanzibar; slave trade; beach; ambivalence
Rights: © 2012 Taylor & Francis
RMID: 0030066957
DOI: 10.1080/02533952.2012.749014
Appears in Collections:English publications

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