Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” – Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture 1993

Morrison indicates  “we do language” and it is the “measure of our lives”. 

You describe Nnedi’s Okarafor’s narrative style as minimalist and unapologetic. 
Embracing Morrison’s wisdom: 
  • Do you view Okorafor’s narrative style reflective of Afrofuturist philosophy?  
  • Do you believe that Okorafor purposefully scripts Onyesonwu’s testimony using an unapologetic and minimalist/terse narrative style?  
  • If so, how does this attention to language and form enhance the literary artistry of Who Fears Death?

1 comment:

  1. I find Okorafor’s minimalist writing style as her way of not only enthralling her readers, but also keeping true to the voice of her character, Onyesonwu. Who Fears Death is a text that has a young woman facing some catastrophic, world-altering forces in her quest to find herself and being able to love that self entirely. This narrative style has no need for much explanation of either the systems of magic or how this post-apocalyptic dystopia came about. This style lends itself well to the verisimilitude of Onye’s voice. A person who lives in this world would accept it as it is, and this serves the author for making her readers do so as well. The audience takes Onye’s view as the central perspective of the narrative and she gives just enough gripping detail to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

    But in terms of Afrofuturist philosophy, Onyesonwu and the world she traverses is one of unapologetic African culture. One in which a more Euro-familiar reader might want explained because the stark difference to other texts is jarring. This unyielding sense of not needing to explain itself is what makes this text great. It is a world in which people of African descent take center stage, turning the conventional narrative norms on their heads. Who Fears Death readers to accept and value these darker bodies within a literary imagination that traditionally puts people of color in the margins, only bringing them to the fore as a way to better characterize white protagonists.