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Writing Zong!

This is Marlene Nourbese writing towards the end of Zong!, in an epigraph of sorts:

To not tell the story that must be told, I employed a variety of techniques:

—I white out and black out words (is there a difference?).

—I mutilate the text as the fabric of African life and the lives of these men, women, and children were mutilated.

—I murder the text, literally cut it into pieces, castrating verbs, suffocating adjectives, murdering nouns, throwing articles, prepositions, conjunctions overboard, jettisoning adverbs: I separate subjects from verbs, verbs from objects–creating semantic mayhem until my hands bloodied from so much killing and cutting, reach into the stinking, eviscerated innards, and like some seer, sangoma or prophet who, having sacrificed an animal for signs and portents of a new life, or simply life, reads the untold story that tells itself by not telling. 193-194

No one has to tell you that whatever work of art comes out of such a project would be both strange and wondrous. To find out what the finished product looks like? Click here.

To learn more about the Zong story, click here.

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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