Stanford University Professor Ato Quayson recently announced a forthcoming book. The funny thing is he’s been lowkey teasing this book for a while. All the way back in April when we featured Prof. Quayson on Brittle Paper’s #WeTurnToBooks Instagram Live chat, he talked a lot about tragedy. And when he launched a Youtube vlog called Critic.Reading.Writing, he centered several episodes on tragedy in both Greek and African literary traditions. Well, the obsession with tragedy and fiction now makes sense.
The new book is titled Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature and will be published by Cambridge University Press early next year. The book asks why it matters to consider the ethical and political implications of how suffering has been represented in literature over time. Here’s a summary from the publisher:
This book examines tragedy and tragic philosophy from the Greeks through Shakespeare to the present day. It explores key themes in the links between suffering and ethics through postcolonial literature. Ato Quayson reconceives how we think of World literature under the singular and fertile rubric of tragedy. He draws from many key works – Oedipus Rex, Philoctetes, Medea, Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear – to establish the main contours of tragedy. Quayson uses Shakespeare’s Othello, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Tayeb Salih, Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, Samuel Beckett and J.M. Coetzee to qualify and expand the purview and terms by which Western tragedy has long been understood. Drawing on key texts such as THE POETICS and THE NICHOMACHEAN ETHICS, and augmenting them with Frantz Fanon and the Akan concept of musuo (taboo), Quayson formulates a supple, insightful new theory of ethical choice and the impediments against it. This is a major book from a leading critic in literary studies.
Prof. Quayson is essentially offering a new take on tragedy by staging a conversation between texts of Greek antiquity and postcolonial writing. Sounds exciting!