Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Wassel Mathews

There’s really no end to last-name adjectives in Western literary culture. Shakespearean, Dickensian, Kafkaesque, Sebaldian are just a few. As you can imagine, it’s an honor for an author to have his or her last name become an adjective.

The last-name adjective is the sign that an author has become bigger than him or herself, has been promoted to a higher level of abstraction. Kafka ceases to be Kafka (the man) and becomes a technique, an aesthetic form, a style, a political idea, an artistic movement, a literary problem, a historical force, etc. His name is used to define a vast and diverse body of work that comes after he is long gone and even many that precede him.

The last-name adjective is the proof of an authors influence on a literary tradition. I like to think of it as an apotheosis from author to ancestor.

In African fiction, we’ve had some. Not many. It is common among African literary scholars to speak of an Achebean style, a Soyinkan aesthetics, or a Senghorian imagery.

Blame it on my Tutuola obsession, but I think he deserves to become adjectivized. Tutuolaesque—sounds so beautiful!

Fastforward 50 years from now, which of our contemporary African writers will receive this literary honor? Not all of them. You have to have reinvented the literary tradition for you to gain access into this very exclusive ancestral cult.

Who, among our contemporary writers, will change the course of African fiction? Who will leave a legacy that we would celebrate by transforming their last names into adjectives. Will we ever get to describe literary ideas and forms as Adichian, Beukesian, Colean, Binyavangan, Selasian, Bulawayan, Okrian?

We’ll have to wait and see.

 

Image by Wassel Mathews via

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

13 Responses to “Tutuolaesque? African Fiction and the Last-Name Adjective” Subscribe

  1. Obinna Udenwe 2013/08/27 at 14:52 #

    Awesome! Let’s wait and see. Nice and creativetively creative work lol

  2. Saadiyah 2013/08/28 at 10:14 #

    no need to wait for one of the list: colean!

  3. uhamiri 2013/08/28 at 10:20 #

    Adichian sounds good

  4. Nancy Henaku 2013/08/28 at 11:51 #

    Tutuolaesque? Wow… feels so wonderful on my tongue and you are right. It definitely needs to be adjectivised. Maybe, you could start by using it in your work…who knows?

  5. Sara Perkins 2013/08/28 at 19:30 #

    Tutuolaesque….now I will co-sign that with my last and first-name! I love Amos Tutuola too much as well. I would add to this list Armahian from Ayi Kwei Armah because “Two Thousand Seasons” and “The Healers” are very epic.

    I will start having to use Tutuolaesque from now on. Now I can describe the writing of Henry Duman as Tutuolaesque.

    Great post on much-needed-to-be-put-in-the-air topic 🙂

  6. Ainehi Edoro 2013/08/29 at 11:13 #

    Hi Sara. Who is Henry Duman?

  7. Mid Back Stretches Review 2014/09/29 at 04:40 #

    Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i
    subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered
    bright clear concept

  8. finance 2015/04/13 at 02:25 #

    You’ll for certain do not have something to lose with
    Adiphene, thus for those that actually need to slim while not losing their time and power, then Adiphene is that the product
    for you. This means thay everybody who makes use of Adiphene should shed pounds.
    Glucomannan is among the most active hunger suppressants in Adiphene, and it works to
    suppress yearnings and help you handle your parts.

  9. ask 2015/04/22 at 06:08 #

    What’s up, of course this paragraph is truly good and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.

    thanks.

  10. A handful of are also climbers, and I have a foster now that can climb wire fences like
    Spiderman.

  11. branded.me 2016/06/04 at 08:32 #

    With direct promotion a person get immediate traffic. You can easily do all of thee
    internet marketing and SEO stuff. It has been debated manifold, so no use
    doing this again. They can help inside the first two shore in safety.

  12. Bobbye 2016/06/04 at 17:17 #

    The swamp is filled with deadly creatures including alligators, onne of which Bear finds and
    will kill. Tell each other what youur favorite memory is
    and utilising hope the subsequent 25 years will hold for additional.

  13. Kimberly 2016/07/18 at 03:04 #

    Before leaving, always remember to examine our homepage to
    see if other guide is helpful for you, and you could additionally share this certain tutorial with all your close friends.

Leave a Reply

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

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Turns 15: The Best Moments of a Modern Classic

chimamanda ngozi adichie - by ecrivain

“It wasn’t the first novel I wrote,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told the audience at the University of Nairobi, during her […]

Quramo Writers’ Prize 2018 Unveils Top 5 Finalists

Quramo 1

Lagos – 10/10/18: Quramo Publishing has unveiled the Top 5 finalists of the Quramo Writers’ Prize 2018, two weeks after […]

Enter for the K & L Prize for African Literature

k and l prize

Submissions have begun for the 2019 K & L Prize for African Literature. The $1,000 prize, which is in its […]

The 2018 African Literature Association (ALA) Book Awards | Call for Nominations

ala yale 2017

Submissions have begun for the 2018 African Literature Association (ALA) Book Awards. The deadline for submissions is 1 November 2018. The […]

Nominate a Writer for the Fonlon-Nichols Award for African Literature

nadine gordimer - collage

Nominate a creative writer for the Fonlon-Nichols Award by 1 November 2018. This award, established in 1992 to honor Bernard […]

Pentecostal Republic | A Powerful New Book Tackles the Role of Pentecostalism in Nigerian Politics

pentecostal republics ebenezer obadare

Nigerian Sociologist Ebenezer Obadare is asking us to take a closer look at the underlying forces of Nigeria’s political life. […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.