Research Article

Network Novel: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’s Wizard of the Crow and Dialogues in African Literature


This essay reads Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’s Wizard of the Crow (2006) as an intervention in the ongoing dialogues in African literature. Through the paradigms of ‘reciprocality’, ‘extensibility’ and ‘reconfigurability’, the essay gauges the impacts of dialoguing on the readings of African letters by focusing on ways in which Ngũgĩ reincarnates old concerns of two exemplars of West African literature; Kojo Laing’s Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars (1992) and Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968). The article draws on theoretical insights formulated on literary networks to conceptualise the attraction between Armah and Ngũgĩ on one hand and between Laing and Ngũgĩ on the other, with a view to discerning how Ngũgĩ’s network novel interrogates and intensifies thematic concerns of the preceding novels. Emphasised throughout the essay is how Ngũgĩ reworks Armah’s faecal metaphor and Laing’s body transformations in a bid to reflect on the significance of literary networks as both celebrated and productive enterprise that not only circulates interpretations but also regenerates readings of ‘network novels’.

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