n African Renaissance - Nigerian 'third generation' writing and the idea of home in Helen Oyeyemi's and Sefi Atta's

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


The 'third generation' of contemporary Nigerian novelists writing in English has been said to be characterised by its interest in Diaspora, transnationalism and identity. In this article, I think about the relationship between diaspora and home in contemporary Nigerian writing through a close reading of two novels: Sefi Atta's and Helen Oyeyemi's .

Both of these texts are very interested in the materiality of home, in particular the boundaries around the home that render it a private, enclosed place. In both texts, these boundaries eventually disintegrate: in the protagonist Enitan rejects the idea of home as a bounded, family space, in favour of a new, more politically and socially responsible version of home, and walks out of her family home. In , as Jess's sense of self and identity crumbles, her homes literally fall apart around her, until she finds herself in the Bush, the 'wilderness for the mind,' the ultimate state of homelessness.
Home in these texts becomes a strange, unfamiliar place, and both protagonists are left feeling not 'at home' in their homes. Not being 'at home' in turn allows them to re-imagine a more satisfactory home in the context of diaspora and gender. In a similar way, I argue, these third generation authors retain a home within a lineage of Nigerian writing, engaging with and re-inscribing Yoruba, Nigerian, diasporic and female identities without stepping out of the home of those identities altogether.

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