Scholarly and sophisticated, the survey cites and interprets the works of several major African-Canadian writers, including André Alexis, Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, Claire Harris, and M. Nourbese Philip. In so doing, Clarke demonstrates that African-Canadian writers and critics explore the tensions that exist between notions of universalism and black nationalism, liberalism and conservatism. These tensions are revealed in the literature in what Clarke argues to be – paradoxically – uniquely Canadian and proudly apart from a mainstream national identity.
Clarke has unearthed vital but previously unconsidered authors, and charted the relationship between African-Canadian literature and that of Africa, African America, and the Caribbean. In addition to the essays, Clarke has assembled a seminal and expansive bibliography of texts – literature and criticism – from both English and French Canada. This important resource will inevitably challenge and change future academic consideration of African-Canadian literature and its place in the international literary map of the African Diaspora.
George Elliott Clarke is E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.
Directions Home explores the trajectories and tendencies of African-Canadian literature within the Canadian canon and the socio-cultural traditions of the African Diaspora. Clarke showcases the importance of little-known texts, including church histories and slave narratives, and offers studies of autobiography, crime and punishment, jazz poetics, and musical composition. The collection also includes studies of significant contemporary writers such as George Boyd and Dionne Brand, and trailblazing African-Canadian intellectuals like A.B. Walker and Anna Minerva Henderson.
With its national, bilingual, and historical perspectives, Directions Home is an essential guide to African-Canadian literature.
In the afterword, Clarke, in an interesting re-spin of Fiorentino’s introduction, writes with patented gusto about how his experiences have contributed to multiple sounds and forms in his work. Decrying any grandiose notions of theory, he presents himself as primarily a songwriter.
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