Elleke is at the 2019 ACLALS conference in Auckland, where she will give a keynote address and launch her new book of short stories, To The Volcano.
The keynote, entitled “On Decolonization: the radical power of literary thinking”, will take place at 9am on Tuesday, 16 July 2019, with the book launch following over lunch the same day at 1pm.
Many humanities disciplines including literary studies have been rocked in recent times by movements to decolonize the syllabus—to open curricula to writing from ‘the outside’, including the global margins, or to the commons in its broadest sense. For many, these moves have been seen as affronting and even alarming, threatening our understanding of literature as it has conventionally been received and taught. In this talk I want rather to suggest that decolonization represents an opportunity, an opening and shaking of settled perceptions. Moves to decolonize are particularly an opportunity for those of us involved in writing and reading texts, perhaps especially postcolonial texts, because of what I call the radical power of literary thinking. In the body of the talk I will explore in more detail what I mean by this, drawing on work by Mzobe, Okorafor, Evaristo, and others.
A new review of Indian Arrivals has been published in the Winter 2019 issue of Victorian Studies (vol. 61, no. 2). Some highlights from Sukanya Banerjee’s review:
Focussing especially on poetry, Boehmer’s study reorients our reading of the Anglo-Indian metropolitan encounter in ways that will have significant bearing not only on our study of colonial relations …. , but also on our reckoning of literary history.
The literary and formal dimensions of metropolitan collaborations need more critical attention, an endeavour that this book invites.
This double temporality adds resonance to the book and serves as an instance of the writerly touch with which it is written (Boehmer is also an acclaimed novelist). Indeed, while Indian Arrivals offers much with which to engage, it also makes for very engaging reading. It twins impressive archival research with an imaginative handling of the material.
We’re delighted to announce that Elleke Boehmer was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature on Monday 24 June 2019. Elleke signed her name alongside those of the other new Fellows, including celebrated writers Mary Beard, Stephen Fry, Vahni Capildeo and Monica Ali.
The Royal Society of Literature has some 600 Fellows. They include the very best novelists, short-story writers, poets, playwrights, biographers, historians, travel writers, literary critics and scriptwriters at work today. (Royal Society of Literature website)
Elleke Boehmer will give a master class and lecture on “Postcolonial Poetics and Decolonizing the Academy” at the University of Amsterdam in May.
This event takes the form of, firstly, a 2-hour masterclass led by Elleke Boehmer, aimed mainly at graduate students, focusing on the issues raised in the introduction and first chapter of Postcolonial Poetics, including the question of how to bring together the political and the aesthetic qualities of postcolonial writing. Secondly, Professor Boehmer will give a 1-hour lecture (including time for questions) under the title ‘We Need to Talk about Decolonization (again)’. This lecture will build on topics touched upon in Postcolonial Poetics to explore the pressing question of the state of decolonization in the contemporary academy.
Jenni Ramone has written a glowing review of Postcolonial Poetics in the Times Higher Education supplement.
A couple of highlights:
Elleke Boehmer’s Postcolonial Poetics invites us to be fearless readers. She wants us to enjoy the process of allowing the text to “mould, shape, and reshape our understanding”. This, driven by readings of prominent novelists (Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, J. M. Coetzee, Ben Okri, Salman Rushdie) alongside essayists, poets and short story writers (Warsan Shire, Mongane Serote, M. NourbeSe Philip), makes for a liberating reading experience. Positioned as alert readers, we are reminded that, in order to learn from postcolonial texts, we don’t have to do intrusive things to them. Instead, Postcolonial Poetics offers strategies to reconnect with the surface aesthetics – textual patterns and flows, discontinuities and wit – that are particular features of postcolonial writing.
Boehmer’s book is … a vindication of postcolonial studies and of the potential of postcolonial literature to change the world. She agrees with Okri’s suggestion that the writer’s task is to remake the world, and sees the potential of the reader to activate the work’s resistant power.
In more exciting news for 2019, Elleke Boehmer’s new collection of short stories will be published by Myriad later this year.
These assured, accomplished stories are reports from a world in which unacknowledged dark energies undermine and render hollow our bright, rational self-understanding. With passion and intelligence, and rare moral insight, Elleke Boehmer traces the scars left on the psyche by the tortuous histories of the South.
We are very excited to announce that the Australian edition of The Shouting in the Dark will be published by UWA Publishing in February 2019 as The Shouting in the Dark & other southern writing.
Besides the beautiful new cover, readers can expect some exciting additions in this edition of the novel:
The Shouting in the Dark is Ella’s story of surviving childhood and mapping new belonging. This Australian edition includes a new preface by the author, an interview that sets the book in relation to other stories of migration in the south, and selected writing by Elleke Boehmer about living in, navigating, and gravitating back to the southern hemisphere.
Elleke will be at the Perth Writers’ Festival on 24 February 2019, promoting the Australian edition of The Shouting in the Dark, and other southern writing. She will talk to Jane Cornes Maclean about the legacies of colonialism and how an individual can find their place in the world. All welcome.
A new review of Postcolonial Poetics by Karina Magdalena Szczurek has been published in LitNet. Szczurek praises the book for its “intriguing approach to understanding our relationship to postcolonial literature as readers”. She continues:
Throughout Postcolonial poetics, Boehmer’s careful examination of “reading” practices allows for not only a deeper understanding of the formal, aesthetic dimension of postcolonial writing, but our role as readers in decoding and experiencing a text. It constitutes an invigorating relocation of attention in postcolonial studies.