Canons and Margins: Contemporary Nigerian Writing, Father-Surveillance Criticism and Kindred Economies of Othering


  • Yomi Olusegun-Joseph


Prominent within debates focusing on the imaginative site of contemporary Nigerian writing is an impasse that derives from locating this new literary trend within canonical identification. In a number of cases, the contemporary Nigerian writer is treated as relatively inferior to writers of older generations, despite their novel and revisionist statements on ethnicity, nation, nationalism, gender, place, home, exile, and postcolony. On the one hand, this paper contests this questionable critical persuasion as biased and symptomatic of an essentialist mode of reading it refers to as “father-surveillance criticism.” On the other hand, it interrogates certain new institutional and ideological practices that tend to bifurcate contemporary Nigerian writing along categories that privilege the migrant version at the expense of the home-grown stock. Thus, the paper reads contemporary Nigerian writing as a revolutionary site of several imaginative, thematic, and discursive possibilities which problematizes familiar orientations of canonizing and therefore compels a democratizing and reviewing of the idea of the Nigerian literary canon.