English, Department of
Who should I write for – Nigerians, Africans, or everyone?
Date of this Version
The Guardian, October 14, 2016
What does it mean to be an ‘African’ writer? And is provincial writing always political? The Nigerian author explains why the best literature is accessible to all.
When I published my novel, The Fishermen, last year, one of the most common – and most surprising – questions I received was about my intended audience. This question, I came to discover, is frequently asked of writers who have a similar provenance to mine. In the past few years, writers have responded in various ways. One reaction comes from a group of writers – including Taiye Selasi – who have sought to nix the idea of the “African” writer’s identity. Others, many of whom live in Africa, have argued that the solution is to play up their identity to an extreme – seeking to be read chiefly because of their origin rather than in spite of it.
Copyright 2016 Chigozie Obioma