Invalidating the Imagination through Marginalization and Autobiographical Inferences in Reception of J. NozipoMaraire’sZenzele: a Letter for My Daughter and Sade Adeniran’s Imagine this

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Suzanne Ondrus

pages: 83 – 98
published online: 22 july 2013

ABSTRACT

This article documents (through examining popular book reviews predominately in America) marginalization of two African fiction epistolaries by contemporary women writers, respectively Zenzele: a Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire and Imagine This by Sade Adeniran. This article deals with two types of marginalization: autobiographical and geographical. It finds a number of critics, primarily women, who assume the author is the narrator despite the book’s fiction genre label. Some reviews take the novels’ African setting as a focal point of response—geographical marginalization. This article explores how this genre’s 17th century reception history of privileging truth over fiction is still prevalent in contemporary critiques.It looks at purported nonfiction for insight into the prejudicial reception of the examined novels. This article considers how emotional engagement and intimacy foster perceptions of novels as autobiography instead of fiction.
Key words: Poetry; marginalization, emotional engagement, autobiographical truth, gender

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