Kenya som roman/Kenya as a novel
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Stefan Helgesson og Kari Jegerstedt
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor started working on her debut novel Dust in 2007, the same year as the presidential elections triggered bloody riots in the authors country of origin, Kenya. «I guess I was looking at the family as a microcosmos of our national family dysfunction», Owuor has said about the novel. Today she is considered one of the leading younger African writers, and she has been awarded one of Africa’s most prestigious literary awards, the Caine Prize. Owuor’s texts have appeard in the American literary journal McSweeney’s and she has received euphoric critiques, amongst others in the New York Times, who said that «in this dazzling novel you will find the entirety of human experience».
On the first page of the novel, the grown up sonin the Oganda family is shot down in the streets, on the same night as the 2007 riots erupt, after which the text examines closely the recent and violent history og Kenya. How do the structures of society make their mark on a Kenyan family? How are generations of Kenyans afflicted by the instability that surrounds them? And how does a nation deal with the traumas of the past?
Stefan Helgesson is professor of literature at the University of Stockhom, author and literary critic in Dagens Nyheter and one of Swedens foremost experts on contemporary African literature. Kari Jegerstedt is assistand professor of literature at the University of Bergen, and has, amongst others, conducted research on south african protest literature. At the House of Literature she talks with Owuor and Helgesson about Kenya and the African novel.
ILL.: Fotografi av Owuor og omslag fra romanen Dust, bearbeidet Gladesigner