The African Novel of Ideas

Book CoverMy second book, The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing, is currently in production with Princeton University Press. It tells the story of the relationship between the novel and philosophy at key, under-studied junctures of African intellectual life, from the early 20th century through the present day. It is a story, specifically, of how the novel negotiates between liberal selfhood and liberal critique, unseating false dichotomies between humanistic and liberationist thought traditions. Starting with Fante anticolonial worldliness in pre-nationalist Ghana; moving through efforts to systematize Shona philosophy in mid-century Zimbabwe; developing Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Ugandan novel Kintu as a treatise on pluralistic rationality; and arriving, finally, at the treatment of “philosophical suicide” by current southern African writers, I construct a far-reaching account of the relationship between reflective individualism and aggregative structures.