Writing her way: A study of Ghanaian novelist Amma Darko
This study explores writing, publishing, and reading practices in West Africa through the lens of one emerging woman writer's experiences. Ghanaian novelist Amma Darko, the author of Beyond the Horizon and The Housemaid, provides an exemplar of the challenges facing women writers in the region today: lack of time and space to write, lack of literary mentors, inadequate access to books written by sister writers on the continent or even in their own countries. Despite these difficulties, Darko has persisted in writing novels that speak vividly to contemporary issues for African women. The dissertation analyzes the daily practices that have enabled her to develop a writing life, the publishing history of her works, and the cultural contexts in which she is read now and may be read in the future at home and abroad.
The publishing landscape for African women writers like Darko consists of multinational publishers, small Third World advocacy presses, and struggling indigenous publishing houses. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses in the circle of cultural production. Darko's reputation abroad has been made by the first two; she may become more widely known locally through the third.
Although there is evidence of a “book famine” caused by economic crises in West Africa, increasing numbers of West African women do read for pleasure and are hungry for good stories that relate to their lives, whether those are Western bestsellers or African-centered romance fiction. Darko's works, until recently little known in Ghana or the U.S., bridge the gap between the high-culture literature of the classroom and low-culture popular fiction. Amma Darko represents a new generation that is writing its way forward from an existing West African women's literary tradition to new possibilities in themes, styles, and readership.
In contrast to the image of African women writers as “silenced,” the appendix identifies 159 West African women who have published novels or short story collections in the last seventy years.
British and Irish literature
0593: British and Irish literature