Embodied genealogies and gendered violence in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's writing
This essay examines two recent novels by the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,Purple Hibiscus ( 2005) andHalf a YellowSun (2006), placing themfirst in a dialogue with each other, and more broadly with selected Nigerian writing on the Biafra conflict. Arguing with Adesanmi that Adichie belongs to a ‘third generation’ of African literary work, it traces the novels’ work of historical revisionism through gendered and embodied discourses of pain and violence. Adichie returns the reader to an aesthetics of excess firmly grounded on potently disturbing images of the ‘body in pain’, in Elaine Scarry’s memorable phrase (1983): the battered, bruised and scarred body emerges as a key image, a corporeal evocation of the individual self that is traced in both novels to a legacy of colonial and post-colonial relations, and specific gendered configurations.
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