“Makes a compelling case for a rethinking of narrative moments including slavery, the Middle Passage, and colonization that have defined the fiction produced in a transatlantic geography. Provokes a reassessment of notions of Africa as an ur-home and figurations of nation-state. A must-read.”—Maxine Lavon Montgomery, author of The Fiction of Gloria Naylor: Houses and Spaces of Resistance
“Shows how literary texts perform a cultural mediation of diasporic memory.”—Wendy w. Walters, author of Archives of the Black Atlantic: Reading between Literature and History
“Moves productively between the civil-rights generation of African American novelists, to the cultural-nationalist generation of Caribbean writers from the decolonization era, to contemporary British, Canadian, and American writers.”—Olakunle George, author of Relocating Agency: Modernity and African Letters
Precarious Passages unites literature written by members of the far-flung black Anglophone diaspora. Rather than categorizing novels as simply “African American,” “black Canadian,” “black British,” or “postcolonial African Caribbean,” this book takes an integrative approach: it argues that fiction creates and sustains a sense of a wider African diasporic community in the Western world.
Tuire Valkeakari analyzes the writing of Toni Morrison, Caryl Phillips, Lawrence Hill, and other contemporary novelists of African descent. She shows how their novels connect with each other and with defining moments in the transatlantic experience, most notably the Middle Passage and enslavement. The lives of their characters are marked by migration and displacement. Their protagonists yearn to experience fulfilling human connection in a place they can call home. Portraying strategies of survival, adaptation, and resistance across the limitless varieties of life experiences in the diaspora, these novelists continually reimagine what it means to share a black diasporic identity.
Tuire Valkeakari is professor of English at Providence College and the author of Religious Idiom and the African American Novel, 1952-1998.