‘V.S Naipaul has passed away at the age of 85.Just a couple of months before the widely celebrated Black History Month
In the literary world,he was seen as a controversial writer.His work drew admiration and revulsion in equal measure.Despite this,Naipaul won numerous coveted literary awards.
His name rekindled memories of my undergraduate days.Those were the days when his books,as well as many others, were not a choice but mandatory.
Naipaul tended to gravitate towards the life of people from the Caribbean’s. This group of people were either based in their native country or had been displaced.Thus,through his works we are enlightened to their history.The history which enables us to celebrate Black history month.
As we enter October,which has been set aside as Black History Month,we can see how the history of black people is depicted through many literary works. So,here are five literary works I recommend, which, despite the country, illustrate the history of a this group of people.
1 Siswe Bansi is Dead, Athol Fugard
This play is based in South Africa around the period when identity cards were introduced and were compulsory for anyone over 16 years. The checks and balances which were implemented restricted travel and employment of the blacks in the country. The major theme is of identity. The protagonist relinquishes his identity and takes on the identity of a dead man.
2 The Lonely Londoner, Samuel Selvon
Selvon based his book in post 2nd world War London. This was the period the ‘Windrush Generations’ migrated to London from the Caribbean countries of Jamaica,Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.
It is a novel of cultural expatriation and deals with racism, job discrimination, class struggle and isolation.
3. Black Boy, Richard Wright
Black Boy is Wrights autobiography and is based mainly in Southern America Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. during the Jim Crow regime when American public what they did to the black peasantry to which he was born. The major themes are racism.
4. A Litany of Atlanta ,W.E. Du Bois
The Atlanta Race Riots of 1906,instigated this poem. A Litany of Atlanta is a poem, which is written in the form of a prose. This major theme is of social injustice of the blacks by the whites.It is portrayed as an emotional outburst in the form of an appeal to God.
5.2nd Class Citizen, Buchi Emecheta
Okay this one was read way before my undergraduate days. However,I had to sneak it in. Emecheta introduced me to African literature as this was one of the first African books I ever read.
This one is based in London and and in Nigeria.However,it focuses on the prejudices and bias the protagonist faces as a woman in both Nigeria and London.
So,despite the country,there is a universal theme which runs through the history and can be celebrated in Black History Month