Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Ranting of a Twitting Twat: Silly Habits of The Novel

SHARE THIS

Novels take time to write and way more time to read. They take themselves seriously. If there is one thing they love more than telling stories it is teaching. Never mind that at different points in history, certain kinds of novels have come along and wailed, “Oh, teaching is for creeps. We do not teach. We do not care.  Read us for the nothing we offer you. We give nothing. So expect nothing.” Don’t be fooled. Novels are always teaching. They do not even have to mean to teach. They just do.

I hate to admit it, but they travel well and love to pick up new habits as they hop around the world. Achebe says as much in one of his many essays. Notwithstanding, novels always have a core set of values on which they never compromise. These values that help the novel stay true to itself are guarded by a strange clique of cemetery watchmen called literary critics.

Novels are stuck up. Everyone knows that. There are many reasons why, but I’ll only mention one…maybe three. The main character in a novel always has to be unique or different. Part of the crowd, but set apart nonetheless. Even when characters in a novel are ordinary, their ordinariness is extraordinary. That just about disqualifies most of us from having a chance at being characters in a novel. Doesn’t it? Of course, some of us like to think of our lives as cute little novels being written in realtime. But that, my dear, is one of the many necessary fictions of our lives.

Novels are at their most cheesiest when they worry about their age. I am yet to meet the novel that is totally okay with coming around, staying for a minute, and then disappearing. Every novel has the dream of becoming a classic. In the world of novels, money talks but so does shelf life.

Novel readers are far less interesting. They are members of a vanishing race who love shrink-proof stories. Stories that would not fit in a blogpost or a tweet or a Facebook status.

 

Tags: , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

7 Responses to “Ranting of a Twitting Twat: Silly Habits of The Novel” Subscribe

  1. Ose May 27, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Really enjoyed this piece, well written as usual!

  2. Chibuzor May 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Lol! Ths is just beautiful and insightful. But then lets bring ths home to africa, where supposed fiction writers go investigated about the sad sad part of euery day africa, thusly there books are at best a mere flicker of flame, just a enough to win the commonwealth/caine prizes, and there you get it, most books authored by africans are more than oft. Stereotyped. But then there are a few exceptions, eg. The secret lives of baba segi’s wives by lola shoneyin. Etc.

  3. Sel May 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    No fair Ainehi, if you want to look at it that way then, there is absolutely nothing that is anything on this Earth that does not teach. Intention is not even relevant.
    Even nothing teaches something and I just realizes that my mind cannot even conceive of nothing.

    See, I’m even teaching myself something just by typing this without meaning to mean to.

    For me a novel is an escape. Sometimes it becomes a trap though, especially when it forces/tricks you into contemplating something you did not want to. eg. Coetzee’s Disgrace (I do NOT reccommend that pretentious book)

    But do read Ngugi’s Matigari.

    We might be uninteresting – a vanishing race – but the final implosion will carry the world along.

  4. Ainehi May 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Sel

    I love ur comment. It has the seeds of what could well be a good response to Twitting Twat’s bashing of the novel. If u develop the comment into a short response I’ll be happy to post it on Brittle Paper.

  5. Sel June 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    …and I love your blog.
    I shall see what I can scramble up.

  6. Ainehi June 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    @ Sel,

    Email it to brittlepaper@gmail.com when you have it. Thank Sel.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Novel: A Response, an exhortation « In My Own Words… - July 20, 2011

    […] this as a response to Einehi of Brittle Paper’s blog post here, which he/she was gracious enough to publish as a guest blog […]

Leave a Reply to Ainehi

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Nnedi Okorafor’s LaGuardia Wins 2020 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story or Comic

Nnedi Okorafor's LaGuardia Wins 2020 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story or Comic (3)

Nigeria’s Nnedi Okorafor is on a roll! Barely two weeks since bagging an Eisner Award, Okarafor wins the coveted Hugo […]

Ugandan Novelist Jennifer Makumbi on All-Female Short Story Prize Longlist

Jennifer Makumbi on All-Female Short Story Prize Longlist

Celebrated Ugandan author Jennifer Makumbi is on the longlist of the 2020 Edge Hill Short Story Prize for her debut […]

Is Oedipus Rex a Form of Detective Fiction? — Watch Episode 5 of Prof. Ato Quayson’s Vlog

Is Oedipus Rex a Form of Detective Fiction_ --- Watch Episode 5 of Prof. Ato Quayson's Vlog

The fifth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up! As the literary vlog enters its fifth week, Quayson […]

Wole Soyinka Writes Letter of Solidarity for Detained Humanist Mubarak Bala

Soyinka2

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has never hesitated to speak out in the face of injustice. He recently penned a letter […]

Kenyan Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and Ghanaian American Playwright Jocelyn Bioh Collaborating on a Disney+ Project

once on this island wanuri kahiu joselyn bioh (1)

Wanuri Kahiu will direct the Disney+ film adaptation of the Broadway musical, Once on This Island, reports Hollywood Reporter. Ghanaian-American […]

Treasure is a New Novella by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Braithwaite3

Calling all fans of My Sister, the Serial Killer! Oyinkan Braithwaite has a new novella out. Titled Treasure, the book […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.