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History and memory in the fiction of Chinua Achebe, John Edgar Wideman, and Zakes Mda

Okey Ndibe, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the nature and context of the dialogue between African and African American writers, buttressed by the extensive use of history and memory by Chinua Achebe, John Edgar Wideman, and Zakes Mda, the three writers at the center of this study. Through the reading of three primary texts – Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Wideman’s The Cattle Killing, and Mda’s The Heart of Redness – the dissertation examines not only the writers’ engagement with memory and history but also their deployment of “African” metaphysics, modes of apprehension and narrative traditions. The study foregrounds how a growing number of contemporary African and African American writers share an interest in probing connections, common fissures and tensions in their historical experiences. It explores the writers’ investment in history, concern with memory acts, the deployment of the logistics of ogbanje and its allied concepts within their communicative economies, and their involvement in a tripartite trans-Atlantic response to hegemonic discourse.

Subject Area

Modern literature|African literature|American literature

Recommended Citation

Ndibe, Okey, "History and memory in the fiction of Chinua Achebe, John Edgar Wideman, and Zakes Mda" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379998.