Life is a Thriller

ISBN 978-3-89645-830-8

Life is a Thriller

Investigating African Crime Fiction

Edited by: Anja Oed, Christine Matzke. With an introduction by: Anja Oed, Christine Matzke. With contributions by: Matthew J. Christensen, Geoffrey V. Davis, Susanne Gehrmann, James Gibbs, Mikhail D. Gromov, Karola Hoffmann, Said M.A. Khamis, Matthias Krings, Manfred Loimeier, Christine Matzke, Katja Meintel, Anja Oed, Ranka Primorac, Uta Reuster-Jahn, Alina Rinkanya, Doris Wieser. Series edited by: Thomas Bierschenk, Anna-Maria Brandstetter, Raimund Kastenholz, Matthias Krings, Carola Lentz.

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Volume 30

2012
246 pp.
1 colour photograph, 4 colour figures, 7 b/w figures, Appendix: Conference Programme
Text language(s): English
Format: 170 x 240 mm
600 g
Paperback
€ 29.80

African crime fiction has only recently been recognised as a field of scholarly enquiry. Yet all popular genres and crime fiction in particular seem to have an astonishing capacity to absorb and reflect on their reader’s everyday concerns in a highly engaging manner. A comparative investigation of African crime fiction pro­vides clues as to how African writers and intellectuals respond to the challenges of modernity.

This collection represents the unique coming together of international scholars and practitioners at the 9th International Janheinz Jahn Symposium on African Literatures at the Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany, in the attempt to investigate African crime fiction in its broadest possible scope, and from a multiplicity of per­spectives. Contributions range from general national overviews to close readings of individual works; analy­ses include narratological, political, linguistic and cultural studies approaches.

Together these papers cover crime narratives in seven languages – Afrikaans, English, Ewe, French, Portuguese, Swahili, and Yorùbá – by writers such as Muhammed Said Abdulla, Kólá Akínlàdé, Boubacar Boris Diop, F. Kwasi Fiawoo, Monica Genya, Rodwell Musekiwa Machingauta, Tony Marinho, Deon Meyer, Ben R. Mtobwa†, Pepetela, and Adaora Lily Ulasi. Also included are interviews with Deon Meyer, Ben R. Mtobwa†, Angela Makholwa, and Meshack Masondo.


CONTENTS

Anja Oed / Christine Matzke:
Introduction


Southern Africa

Ranka Primorac:
Nation, detection and time in contemporary Southern African fiction

Matthias Krings:
Meet Lance Spearman – your favourite crime-buster

Geoffrey V. Davis:
‘Old loyalties and new aspirations’ – the post-apartheid crime fiction of Deon Meyer

Doris Wieser:
Parody in Angolan crime fiction – Pepetela’s Jaime Bunda


West and Central Africa

Matthew J. Christensen:
Violable states – postcolonial sovereignty, neoliberalism, and generic failure in Tony Marinho’s biothriller The Epidemic

James Gibbs:
Crime and punishment in fact and fiction in the Gold Coast during the 1940s – F. Kwasi Fiawoo’s Tɔkɔ Atõlia

Susanne Gehrmann:
On crime without justice – investigative patterns and the quest for truth in Boubacar Boris Diop’s novels

Anja Oed:
‘The world has changed’ – modernity in Kọ́lá Akínlàdé’s detective novel Owó Èjè

Katja Meintel:
Francophone crime novels from Sub-Saharan Africa – generic conventions and the legitimisation of violence

Manfred Loimeier:
Life is a thriller – crime fiction in Nigeria


East Africa

Mikhail D. Gromov:
Generic innovation in recent Swahili crime fiction by Ben Mtobwa and Aristablus Elvis Musiba

Said Khamis:
Is Abdulla’s Bwana Msa in Mzimu wa Watu wa Kale Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in disguise?

Uta Reuster-Jahn:
Police and judiciary corruption in Tanzanian crime novels

Alina Rinkanya:
Rewriting gender in Kenyan crime fiction

Karola Hoffmann:
Crime fiction as a means of political propaganda and ideologisation


Bibliography

Christine Matzke:
Of guns, ghosts, and gangsters – a preliminary checklist of African and African-Diasporic crime novels in English


Interviews

Manfred Loimeier:
Interview with Deon Meyer

Mikhail D. Gromov:
Interview with Ben R. Mtobwa (†)

Manfred Loimeier:
Interview with Ben R. Mtobwa (†)

Christine Matzke:
Girls with guts: writing a South African thriller – Angela Makholwa in conversation

Manfred Loimeier:
Interview with Angela Makholwa

Manfred Loimeier:
Interview with Meshack Masondo

Appendix:
Conference programme

Notes on contributors

About the editors:

Anja Oed is a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Gutenberg University of Mainz/Germany, and the Head of the Jahn Library for African Literatures. Her research interests include African literatures, Yorùbá literature and video film adaptations, African literary cityscapes, and literary representations of African civil wars. She obtained her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She holds an MA in English Literature and Linguistics, Musicology, and Anthropology from the University of Freiburg (Breisgau) as well as an African Studies Certificate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Christine Matzke has recently moved to the University of Bayreuth/Germany after teaching in the African Studies Department at the Humboldt University, Berlin. Her research interests include African (specifically Eritrean) theatre, African literature in English, and postcolonial crime fiction. She is the co-editor of African Theatre: Diasporas (2009) (with Osita Okagbue), Of Minstrelsy and Masks: The Legacy of Ezenwa-Ohaeto in Nigerian Writing (2006) (with Aderemi Raji-Oyelade and Geoffrey V. Davis) and Postcolonial Postmortems: Crime Fiction from a Transcultural Perspective (2006) (with Susanne Mühleisen).


Accompanying material:

Cross-reference:

Reviews

Würde man heute, zum Beispiel während einer Podiumsdiskussion, das Publikum bitten, Namen afrikanischer Krimischriftsteller zu nennen, dann würde man garantiert genannt bekommen: Deon Meyer und Roger Smith, wahrscheinlich noch Alexander McCall Smith. Die beiden erstgenannten Autoren sind zur Zeit hochaktuell. Der Name McCall Smith tendiert so langsam zum Vergessen. Aber was ist z.B. (um nur sehr wenige Namen zu nennen) mit Wessel Ebersohn oder James McClure? Die Krimis beider Autoren erschienen in der (inzwischen lange eingestellten) Reihe rororo thriller. Niemand würde sich an diese beiden Autoren erinnern. Mongo Beti (Kamerun), Meja Mwangi [...] [Kenia], Pepe[te]la (Angola - "Pepe[te]la" ist übrigens das Pseudonym von Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos, ehemaliger Vize-Bildungsminister Angolas) - drei Autoren, deren Krimis im Unionsverlag Zürich erschienen (u.a. in der von Thomas Wörtche bestens geschaffenen und betreuten Utmetro Reihe) - niemand würde sich erinnern. Für diejenigen, die mehr über afrikanische Kriminalliteratur erfahren möchten, dürfte der Sammelband "Life is a Thriller" von höchstem Interesse sein. Vom 9. bis 12. Januar 2008 kam eine Gruppe von Autoren, Professoren und Dozenten, Journalisten und Verleger aus Afrika, Europa und Nordamerika zusammen, um sich an der Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz während des 9. Internationalen Janheinz Jahn Symposiums auszutauschen und zu diskutieren. Thema war "Beyond 'Murder by Magic'" - ihnen ging es darum, einen tieferen und differenzierten Blick in die afrikanische Kriminalliteratur zu werfen. Diskutiert wurde afrikanische Kriminalliteratur, die in neun verschiedenen Landessprachen erscheint: Afrikaans, Englisch, Ewe, Französisch, nördliches Sotho, Portugiesisch, Suaheli, Yorùbá und Zulu. Die beiden Herausgeber haben eine Auswahl der interessantesten Beiträge dieses Symposiums zusammengestellt, welche die verschiedenen nationalen Kriminalliteraturen des schwarzen Kontinents darstellen. Für Interessierte dürften sich mit diesen Beiträgen einige der weißen Flecke[n] auf der literarischen Landkarte Schwarzafrikas verflüchtigt haben. Ausführliche Bibliographien weiterführender Literatur beschließen jeden Essay. Zudem werden neben den hier publizierten Vorträgen bzw. Diskussionsbeiträgen sechs Interviews mit afrikanischen KrimiautorInnen angeboten. Und höchst erfreulich ist die "Checklist" afrikanischer Kriminalromane in englischer Sprache, die allen Interessierten einen umfassenden wie genauen Blick in die afrikanische Krimialliteratur erlauben wird.

Thomas Przybilka in Bonner Krimi Archiv (BOKAS), Sekundärliteratur 59, pp. 1

One of my secret pleasures is to read fiction and call it 'work' although I have not yet reached the stage of claiming the purchase price of popular novels against tax. This volume helps me justify and validate the practice as one of the secrets of a highly effective Africanist. The last two decades have seen a great increase in the number of thrillers and whodunnits by African authors and with African settings. Some of them have considerable literary merit and have earned an international readership. Most engage with political and economic issues. Now they are attracting serious scholarly attention.

[see the full review text following the link below]

Terry Barringer in African Research & Documentation, 123/2013, pp. 59-60

PDF documents:

PDFReview in “African Research & Documentation” 2013, 59-60(≈ 229 kB)
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