The People's Right to the Novel

War Fiction in the Postcolony

Eleni Coundouriotis



This study offers a literary history of the war novel in Africa. Coundouriotis argues that this genre, aimed more specifically at African readers than the continent’s better-known bildungsroman tradition, nevertheless makes an important intervention in global understandings of human rights. The African war novel lies at the convergence of two sensibilities it encounters in European traditions: the naturalist aesthetic and the discourse of humanitarianism, whether in the form of sentimentalism or of human rights law. Both these sensibilities are present in culturally hybrid forms in the African war novel, reflecting its syncretism as a narrative practice engaged with the colonial and postcolonial history of the continent.


Tackling the difficult and urgent issue of wars in Africa and their representation by insider-authors, Coundouriotis’s text will provoke debate and raise interest in a rich but still under-researched field of study by means of wide ranging, trenchant analyses. ― Annie Gagiano


Eleni Coundouriotis is Professor of English and a faculty affiliate for the program in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut.