Where do they keep African Fiction? On the SA Non Fiction shelf of course.

28 Jul

As one of my postgraduate courses this semester I am doing African Literature. I am still confused as to what this means, and my lecturer has not managed to shed any light on the subject. Is it Literature about Africa? By Africans? By those born in Africa but living elsewhere? Of African origin? Why does it exclude South African Literature?

But these questions aside, what has been more disturbing is the battle to find the books. I have spent my hours, days, weekends scouring bookshops and libraries. I am closer, but not yet there. And in my scouring of the bookshops, a very disturbing question has raised its head, time after time.

Why do we, here in South Africa, keep African Fiction on its own private shelf? And South African Fiction on another? Are we deliberately trying to make readers think of them as other. Even, dare I say it, lesser? And this phenomenon is sadly not limited to bookshops, our music stores also keep South African music apart from the rest.

The title above is taken from the response Wordsworth in Longbeach Mall gave me when I asked about African Fiction. It defies logic. Oh, and they keep JM Coetzee under “Classics”.

I don’t like it. I want to do something about it. Who’s with me?

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