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Running In (and Out) the Family

Postcolonial Family Novels in Perspective

Lorenzo Mari    Independent researcher    



The genre of the family novel can be identified in many postcolonial literary cultures. Initially, it was often read as an example of “national allegory” (Jameson 1986), thus considering family narrative in a tight relationship with postcolonial nation-building, but this theoretical framework has been later criticised from different perspectives, ranging from post-national to feminist critiques. Furthermore, the genre of the postcolonial family novel has been refashioned due to the emergence of diasporic narratives, leading to the diffusion of the “postcolonial fictions of adoption” (McLeod 2006). Nowadays, the high competition in the global literary market – namely, with family novels and sagas in the US literary market – drives this genre towards highly individualised, as well as hybridised, outcomes. While focusing, in particular, on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz and Lara ([1997] 2009) by Bernardine Evaristo, this survey of family novels across different literary traditions aims to show the intrinsic porosity, as well as the strenuous resistance, of the genre.

Dec. 20, 2021
Oct. 7, 2021
July 15, 2021

Keywords: National allegoryAfrican, South Asian and South American traditionsPostcolonial family novelsDiasporic narratives

Copyright: © 2021 Lorenzo Mari. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.