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From Home and Exile

A Negotiation of Ideas about Home in Malawian Poetry

by Joanna Woods

This book is about home. With Malawi as its focus, it seeks to understand ideas about home as expressed through poetry written by Malawians in English. Although African Literatures are studied those of Malawi have not received agreeable attention. This book surveys poetry by five Malawian writers – Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula, Jack Mapanje, Lupenga Mphande, and Steve Chimombo. The discussion negotiates scribed experience of exile, engendered by Dr. Banda’s regime, and shows that the selected poets effectively converse with a sense of home, reflecting on its transformations in their work. Interrogating the strict definitions of home, the argument highlights that far from home-less exiles in fact clarify the sense of what ‘home’ is. The manoeuvre is one of thinking towards an unboundaried ‘home’. This book will be of value not only to readers interested in the cultures of Africa but to all those with an interest in worldwide literary phenomena, and ideas therein of home and exile.

ISBN 9789956792771 | 236 pages | 216 x 140mm | 2014 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback



“Joanna Wood’s From Home and Exile explores the many dimensions of home in the work of five prominent Malawian poets. While evidence of meticulous research is present in every page of this book, its unique achievement is the ability to bring conventional literary studies – dependent on text, close reading and interpretation – into conversation with the anthropological requirement of fieldwork.”

Harry Garuba, African Studies, University of Cape Town

“The book offers a new perspective into interpreting and negotiating ideas about exilic experiences of Malawi’s celebrated poets. Exilic experiences at home and abroad represent a continuum of dehumanizing political terrain. Being home or in exile is not just about being within or without some familiar terrain called  the ‘home’, rather it’s about the sense one has of belonging, of inclusion and exclusion. The selection of Malawi literary greats… is quite revealing and perhaps significant symbolically as a literary endeavour."

Dr Ignatio Malizani Jimu, Quality Assurance Manager (Academic), National Council for Higher Education, Malawi

"The book provides a good template with which to analyze the first generation of African writers, the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chenjerai Hove, Chinua Achebe, Steve Biko and others who went through similar experiences of alienation from one’s home and who, just like these poets, have written extensively on the subject matter."

Shadreck Chikoti, Africa in Words



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