Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature is a pioneering study of African-Canadian literary creativity, laying the groundwork for future scholarly work in the field. Based on extensive excavations of archives and texts, this challenging passage through twelve essays presents a history of the literature and examines its debt to, and synthesis with, oral cultures. George Elliott Clarke identifies African-Canadian literature's distinguishing characteristics, argues for its relevance to both African Diasporic Black and Canadian Studies, and critiques several of its key creators and texts.
Scholarly and sophisticated, the survey cites and interprets the works of several major African-Canadian writers, including André Alexis, Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, Claire Harris, and M. Nourbese Philip. In so doing, Clarke demonstrates that African-Canadian writers and critics explore the tensions that exist between notions of universalism and black nationalism, liberalism and conservatism. These tensions are revealed in the literature in what Clarke argues to be – paradoxically – uniquely Canadian and proudly apart from a mainstream national identity.
Clarke has unearthed vital but previously unconsidered authors, and charted the relationship between African-Canadian literature and that of Africa, African America, and the Caribbean. In addition to the essays, Clarke has assembled a seminal and expansive bibliography of texts – literature and criticism – from both English and French Canada. This important resource will inevitably challenge and change future academic consideration of African-Canadian literature and its place in the international literary map of the African Diaspora.
About the author
George Elliott Clarke is a Canadian poet and playwright. Born in Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia, he has spent much of his career writing about the Black communities of Nova Scotia and served for a time in the African-American Studies department at Duke University. He earned a BA Honours degree in English from the University of Waterloo (1984), an MA in English from Dalhousie University (1989), and a PhD in English from Queenâ??s University (1993). In addition, he has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University (LLD), the University of New Brunswick (LittD), the University of Alberta (LittD), and the University of Waterloo (LittD). He is currently professor of English at the University of Toronto.
In 2001 he won the Governor Generalâ??s Literary Award for poetry for his book Execution Poems. Clarkeâ??s work largely explores and chronicles the experience and history of the black Canadian community of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke often refers to as Africadia. Clarkeâ??s Whylah Falls was one of the selected books in the 2002 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by Nalo Hopkinson.
Other titles by George Elliott Clarke
Blacks in Canada
The Quest for a 'National' Nationalism
E.J. Pratt’s Epic Ambition, ‘Race’ Consciousness, and the Contradictions of Canadian Identity
I Am Still Your Negro
An Homage to James Baldwin
A Portrait in Words
Writers on Writing in Canada
J. J. Steinfeld
Essays on His Works
The Merchant of Venice (Retried)