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Picture of "Toubab La!" Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

"Toubab La!" Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

Author(s): Ginette Curry

Book Description

The book is an examination of mixed-race characters from writers in the United States, The French and British Caribbean islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Jamaica), Europe (France and England) and Africa (Burkina Faso, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal). The objective of this study is to capture a realistic view of the literature of the African diaspora as it pertains to biracial and multiracial people. For example, the expression “Toubab La!” as used in the title, is from the Wolof ethnic group in Senegal, West Africa. It means “This is a white person” or “This is a black person who looks or acts white.” It is used as a metaphor to illustrate multiethnic people’s plight in many areas of the African diaspora and how it has evolved. The analysis addresses the different ways multiracial characters look at the world and how the world looks at them. These characters experience historical, economic, sociological and emotional realities in various environments from either white or black people. Their lineage as both white and black determines a new self, making them constantly search for their identity. Each section of the manuscript provides an in-depth analysis of specific authors’ novels that is a window into their true experiences.
The first section is a study of mixed race characters in three acclaimed contemporary novels from the United States. James McBride’s The Color of Water (1996), Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998) and Rebecca Walker’s Black White and Jewish (2001) reveal the conflicting dynamics of being biracial in today’s American society. The second section is an examination of mixed-race characters in the following French Caribbean novels: Mayotte Capécia’s I Am a Martinican Woman (1948), Michèle Lacrosil’s Cajou (1961) and Ravines du Devant-Jour (1993) by Raphaël Confiant. Section three is about their literary representations in Derek Walcott’s What the Twilight Says (1970), Another life (1973), Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967) and Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1995) from the British Caribbean islands. Section four is an in-depth analysis of their plight in novels written by contemporary mulatto writers from Europe such as Marie N’Diaye’s Among Family (1997), Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) and Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara (1997). Finally, the last section of the book is a study of novels from West African and South African writers. The analysis of Monique Ilboudo’s Le Mal de Peau (2001), Bessie Head’s A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (1990) and Abdoulaye Sadji’s Nini, Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1947) concludes this literary journey that takes the readers through several continents at different points in time.
Overall, this comprehensive study of mixed-race characters in the literature of the African diaspora reveals not only the old but also the new ways they decline, contest and refuse racial clichés. Likewise, the book unveils how these characters resist, create, reappropriate and revise fixed forms of identity in the African diaspora of the 20th and 21st century. Most importantly, it is also an examination of how the authors themselves deal with the complex reality of a multiracial identity.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8231-9
ISBN-10: 1-84718-231-3
Date of Publication: 01/07/2007
Pages / Size: 435 / A5
Price: £39.99


Ginette Curry holds a Ph.D. in Post-Colonial Literatures and a M.A in International Relations from the Sorbonne University, Paris. She teaches in the English Department at Florida International University and is an Affiliate Faculty of the Initiative on Race, Gender and Globalization (IRGG) at Yale University. She is the author of Awakening African Women: The Dynamics of Change published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2004. The book is a comparative analysis between recent films by African male/female filmmakers and literary works by female African authors. Dr. Curry also wrote recent book reviews in African Studies Review (ASR), JENDA (A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies), Affilia (A Journal of Women and Social Work) and West Africa Review (WAR). Her biographical essay on Barbara Chase Riboud (1939- ) is featured in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers (Volume One), published by Greenwood Press in the spring 2007. Furthermore, her essay on Danzy Senna (1970- ) will appear in the forthcoming African American National Biography (AANB), a joint project of the W-E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Oxford University Press. In addition, Dr. Curry’s book chapter “African Literature” will be published in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Popular Cultures: Sub-Saharan Africa in the spring of 2007.