Issue 43 of New Orleans Review is themed “The African Literary Hustle” and opens with the editorial by Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Laura T. Murphy, “This Hustle is Not Your Grandpa’s African Lit.” The two issue editors examine the historical ‘presentation’ of African literature published in Western culture as “all too often realist, in English, and in the spirit of Chinua Achebe. But romance, science fiction, fantasy, epic, experimental poetry, satire, and political allegory all find expression in Africa, though not necessarily publication.” The editors confront this disparity, “Those who are called to write often have to hustle to get recognition by writing a coming-of-age colonial encounter tale or hustle even harder to have their unique voices heard. So the post-Achebe generation writer faces all sorts of firewalls.”
Thus, the call went out for this issue, and writers responded with the editors hoping “to provoke some interesting and unpredictable writing and thinking that would reflect and respond to the spirit of the hustle.” Oddly enough, the editors note, “eighty percent of the submissions were from white non-African-identifying writers who thought they could hustle their way into a volume of African literature and had no qualms about it.” Seriously.
The editors close on the comment, “But what is African literature? Is there, can there be, was there ever and African literature? In asking you have answered your question. African literature is a question. It is an open question that invites, and has to keep on inviting, different geographies, languages and forms.”
Thus, this issue of New Orleans Review: The African Literary Hustle.