I am now at work on a second book project called The African Novel of Ideas: Intellection in the Age of Global Writing, under contract with Princeton University Press. It tells the story of the often-fraught relationship between the novel and philosophy at key, under-studied junctures of African intellectual life, from the early 20th century through the present day. It is a story, specifically, of how the novel negotiates between liberal selfhood and collective consciousness, unseating false dichotomies between humanistic and liberationist modes of reading and writing. Starting with Fante anticolonial statesmanship in pre-nationalist Ghana; moving through Stanlake Samkange’s efforts to systematize African philosophy in mid-century Zimbabwe; charting more recent eastern African experiments with incorporating indigenous belief systems into narrative through the figure of the outcast; and arriving, finally, at narrativizations of “philosophical suicide” by southern African writers, I construct a far-reaching account of the relationship between reflective solitude and aggregating structures.
In addition, I have three essays forthcoming: one on aviation, metonymy, and a renewed formal emphasis on progress in recent southern African regional novels by Eben Venter and Jamala Safari (in Research in African Literatures); one on Zimbabwean novelistic structures of argument (in NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction); and one on philosophical suicide from Dostoevsky to contemporary southern Africa (also in NOVEL).
Along with my colleague Nathan Suhr-Sytsma (Emory University), I recently co-edited a special issue of Research in African Literatures on religion and secularity. It features contributions from scholars working across a wide range of African traditions, located in the United States, Africa, and Europe.