The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo:
Polylectics and Reading against Neocolonialism

Vincent O. Odamtten

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"The first full-length scholarly study of the total corpus of a major African female writer, at once comprehensive in scope and intensive enough to take us to the complex depths of major critical issues."--Kofi Anyidoho, University of Ghana, Legon

Ama Ata Aidoo ranks as one of the most creative and prolific African writers. Her social and political vision of Ghana in particular and of Africa and the Third World in general addresses the needs of all oppressed peoples.
Written by a fellow Ghanaian, this book examines the strengths of Aidoo's work and the evolution of her concerns as an artist and an activist from a perspective the author terms "polylectic" criticism--a "reading against neocolonialism." While challenging Western reading habits, Odamtten's approach corrects earlier misreadings of Aidoo's works by fusing the strands of gender, history, ideology, and literary convention.
His discussion focuses on six of her works: two plays, The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa; a collection of short stories, No Sweetness Here; a stylistically radical novel, Our Sister Killjoy: Or, Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint; an equally challenging collection of her poetry, Someone Talking to Sometime; and her latest novel, Changes--A Love Story, which won the prestigious Commonwealth Literature Prize, Africa region, in 1992. Her writing describes exploitation in a way that demands a new and sophisticated understanding--both from Western readers and from Africa's educated elite--of the colonial attitudes that led to inequality and injustice. Aidoo's object, Odamtten says, is to change the reader's consciousness of personal and public history. The study reveals how her innovative use of structure and themes gleaned from Ghana's oral tradition transforms the Western literary genres in which she appears to be working.
This analysis of one of Africa's most versatile authors cuts across the specialized concerns of feminist criticism, African/black literature, and contemporary politics.

Vincent O. Odamtten, a poet and critic from Ghana, is associate professor and director of the Africana Studies Program at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. He has written on African, Caribbean, and African-American literature and culture and has contributed chapters on Ama Ata Aidoo and Efua T. Sutherland to Bio-Bibliography on Fifty African and Caribbean Women Writers.

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"Odamtten manages to outline the evolution of Aidoo's work against African traditional expressive arts as well as Western esthetics while maintaining the tension that is part and parcel of, at the very least, biculturalism. His intent is to correct the partial readings of his subject's works by fusing gender, history, ideology, and literary convention. In so doing, he contributes significantly to the existing body of criticism on African writers."
--World Literature Today

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