Last week I brought the fact that most of the successful and famous African writers live outside of the continent, mostly in the UK and US, up for discussion. Today, I would want us to discuss another interesting trend, the immigrant stories of the African Diasporean Novelist.
Any avid reader might by now have found out that most diasporean African novelists have written, at one point or another, an immigrant story. They are common in short story anthologies and also as independent novels and novellas. There are countless such stories. From Tayib Salih's Seasons of Migration to the North, Benjamin Kwakye's The Other Crucifix, Brian Chikwava's Harare North, and Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah, these stories are not unique to a certain generation. (I am told NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names is also an immigrant story. I have not read this because I thought it a complete novel, as was wrongly marketed, instead of linked short stories, as I have been reliably informed.) However, these stories have suddenly become popular again and with this popularity has made them trite. Unlike Tayib Salih's, most of the other stories concentrate on how the African immigrant did not like his or her new home and all that; and how he or she misses home. There is usually a sort of romanticisation of the motherland and a decision to come back home which is, sometimes, not fulfilled. Racism has also been a key theme in such novels. In fact, I have never lived in any country outside Ghana so I am in no position to judge their accuracy though comments from those who have show that they are sometimes true to the reality. Regardless of this, this story is becoming a pain to read. Personally, I feel I cannot read another of these one-dimensional stories. I think the novel was called 'novel' for a reason. It should be creative even if based on reality.
Have you also identified this trend? And if so what do you think about it? Do you believe that every African novelist in the diaspora feels the same, experiences the same things and for these reasons they write similar stories? Do you think it has become a trite topic?