In This Review

Granta 92: The View From Africa, January 15, 2006
Granta 92: The View From Africa, January 15, 2006
By Various
Granta Books, 2006, 256 pp

This iconoclastic London literary magazine has often featured affecting writing from up-and-coming authors, and so a special issue devoted to African writing is cause for rejoicing. The actual product is inevitably uneven, but the 13 essays (in addition to a photo essay) are never dull. The temptation to view the writing here as representative of Africa in some manner should be resisted, although some of Africa's contemporary characteristics and problems do indeed concern the authors -- from the effects of civil war to the meaning of white identity in postapartheid South Africa to class relations in postindependence Nigeria. A particularly affecting short story by Moses Isegawa describes a rebel band threatening the life of a Ugandan school teacher, while Ivan Vladislavic writes compellingly about coming to terms with recent changes in Johannesburg. The market for such writing within Africa is limited, and one suspects that the authors' target audience is often outside the region, which might explain the proportion of essays on topics that have received media interest in the West. This question of audience is precisely the subject of a polemical piece by Binyavanga Wainaina, "How to Write About Africa."