After detailing the long-standing history of African literature in his last article, Kwei Quartey, author of the Darko Dawson series, returns with another myth-busting goal: to showcase just how broad and evocative these pieces truly are. As critics continue to devalue and ignore notable texts by African authors, Quartey argues against the reductive nature of thinking of their themes as monolithic and pushes back against the idea that contemporary African authors do not exist.
Although Dylan Thomas described Tutuola’s work as “young English” and praised the book in a marvelous review, others were not as sanguine. The New York Times Book Review described Tutuola as “a true primitive” whose world had “no connection at all with the European rational and Christian traditions,” adding that Tutuola was “not a revolutionist of the word, …not a surrealist” but an author with an “un-willed style” whose text had “nothing to do with the author’s intentions. Rational and Christian traditions? Seriously? Other adjectives used to describe Tutuola’s style included, “lazy,” and “barbaric.” This kind of contemptuous commentary is a good example of Eurocentric smugness about their literature, to which I referred in my previous blog.
—Kwei Quartey, “African Writers-Critics and Critiques”