Secret Histories: Detective Fiction, Hermeneutic Skepticism, and Bad Readers in the Contemporary African Novel
Focusing on Chris Abani's The Secret History of Las Vegas (2014), this essay argues that analysis of works that enlist the conventions of popular or genre fiction is crucial for understanding the complex ways in which contemporary African novels engage with and respond to the material realities of globalization. Secret History, for instance, both invokes and refuses the epistemic certainties typically promised by the detective plot. In place of solving a mystery and depicting a subsequent return to order, the novel proffers a principle of hermeneutic skepticism that is attuned to multiplicity, simultaneity, and discontinuity. This principle is echoed in another, better-known work, Teju Cole's Open City (2011), whose protagonist resembles the central character in Secret History. Together, these novels present history as an accumulation of traces, remainders, and ghostly presences, all of which are subject to new kinds of recoding and distortion in the present. The novels' theorization of history and epistemology, in turn, controverts narratives of globalization as a unifying force or homogenizing process in which differences are smoothed out to facilitate the flows of goods and capital. In doing so, these contemporary African novels become “global” by turning critical attention to the power dynamics that structure the present.
|Work Title||Secret Histories: Detective Fiction, Hermeneutic Skepticism, and Bad Readers in the Contemporary African Novel|
|Subtitle||Detective Fiction, Hermeneutic Skepticism, and Bad Readers in the Contemporary African Novel|
|License||In Copyright (Rights Reserved)|
|Publication Date||July 1, 2022|
|Publisher Identifier (DOI)||
|Deposited||February 16, 2023|
This resource is currently not in any collection.