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Writing Zong!

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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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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.

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