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The Caribbean Novel since 1945 - Cultural Practice, Form, and the Nation-State

The Caribbean Novel since 1945

Cultural Practice, Form, and the Nation-State

By Michael Niblett
Series: Caribbean Studies Series
Paperback : 9781628460568, 270 pages, April 2014
Hardcover : 9781617032479, 304 pages, February 2012

How fiction, its forms, and its evolution reflect countries in the midst of postcolonial change

Description

The Caribbean Novel since 1945 offers a comparative analysis of fiction from across the pan-Caribbean, exploring the relationship between literary form, cultural practice, and the nation-state. Engaging with the historical and political impact of capitalist imperialism, decolonization, class struggle, ethnic conflict, and gender relations, it considers the ways in which Caribbean authors have sought to rethink and re-narrate the traumatic past and often problematic 'postcolonial' present of the region's peoples. It pays particular attention to the role cultural practices such as stickfighting and Carnival, as well as religious rituals and beliefs like Vodou and Myal, have played in efforts to reshape the novel form. In so doing, it provides an original perspective on the importance of these practices, with their emphasis on bodily movement, to the development of new philosophies of history.

Beginning in the post-WWII period, when optimism surrounding the possibility of social and political change was at a peak, The Caribbean Novel since 1945 interrogates the trajectories of various national projects through to the present. It explores how the textual histories of common motifs in Caribbean writing have functioned to encode the fluctuating fortunes of different political dispensations. The scope of the analysis is varied and comprehensive, covering both critically acclaimed and lesser-known authors from the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone traditions. These include Jacques Roumain, Sam Selvon, Marie Chauvet, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Earl Lovelace, Patrick Chamoiseau, Erna Brodber, Wilson Harris, Shani Mootoo, Oonya Kempadoo, Ernest Moutoussamy, and Pedro Juan Gutiérrez. Mixing detailed analysis of key texts with wider surveys of significant trends, this book emphasizes the continuing significance of representations of the nation-state to literary articulations of resistance to the imperialist logic of global capital.

Reviews

"The Caribbean Novel since 1945 is a major contribution to commentary on Caribbean literary practices since the end of World War II. Spanning a period that covers the anticolonial struggles in the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean, decolonization and the reconfigurations of the new nation-states and avoiding an approach that simply sees literature as a tool for revisionist historiography, Niblett places his main emphasis on the relationship between national transformations and literary form. He demonstrates how new modalities of thought have emerged from the social reorganizations that have taken place in the Caribbean and offers analyses of the work of writers such as Edouard Glissant, Earl Lovelace, Patrick Chamoiseau, Wilson Harris, and Erna Brodber that breaks new ground. This is an important book for students and readers interested in ways in which Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean writing has evolved across the decades and absolutely essential to anyone considering the commonalities and differences to be found in the writing of the two linguistic groupings. "

--John Thieme, professor of literature, drama and creative writing, University of East Anglia

- UPM

"Michael Niblett's book provides a panoramic analysis of fiction from across the Caribbean, tracking significant trends in the literature and exploring the mutation of key tropes in changing political and historical contexts. In its examination of the impact of cultural practices such as Vodou on the very form of the novel, it opens up original perspectives on how Caribbean writers represent the complex histories of the region's societies. The choice of authors and texts is wide-ranging and comprehensive, providing welcome new interpretations of established figures as well as consideration of understudied writers and traditions. Ultimately, it offers a set of compelling arguments that encourage us to rethink the trajectories of the Caribbean novel since 1945. "

--David Dabydeen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Guyana

- UPM