The Famished Road after Postmodernism: African Modernism and The Politics of Subalternity

Mark Mathuray

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If postmodernism has been the dominant critical prism through which The Famished Road has been analysed, how do we approach that text in the wake of the demise of the postmodern moment? In this paper, I will argue that there is much to suggest that The Famished Road’s allegiances, ideological and formal, lie with modernism rather than with postmodernism, which, in part, raises the broader theoretical incompatibility of postmodernism with postcolonialism. Postcolonialism, I will argue, has never been, could never be, postmodernist. It has always been intractably modernist. By paying close attention to aspects of the novel that have often been elided in criticism of the novel: its advocacy of Fanon’s ‘spontaneous’ political resistance, its stylistic hybridity, and its reliance on meta-narratives (i.e. the conjoining of ethics and aesthetics through the Enlightenment categories of Truth, Justice and Beauty), I will explore how we might re-read the novel after postmodernism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1100-1117
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • The Famished Road, Ben Okri, modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, resistance, African aesthetics, modernity.

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