Using William Gibson’s Neuromancer as his guide book, Louis Chude-Sokei, author of The Last Darky, examines the culture surrounding Nigerian internet scams, often known by the name "419" derived from the Nigerian legal code. Along the way, we see Colin Powell dancing to African hip-hop, the largest bank theft in history, a series of corrupt military dictators, Frantz Fanon, smoldering piles of e-waste, the most trusted man in Nigeria and the kidnapped star of the Nigerian film adaptation of Things Fall Apart.
Written in a long, continuous sentence this bawdy, intertextual novel from the Congolese author of African Psycho takes as its themes "capitulation, decadence and the joys of self-abasement." Louis Chude-Sokei, author of The Last Darky, reviews and examines the long-standing prohibition on black writers exploring themes of self-loathing and intra-community criticism, both of which he argues are essential literary tools.
Are "discursive domination" and "representational violence" the colonial impulse in fiction or the very nature of literature itself? Is there an ethical way for writers to represent people who are racially, sexually, culturally different or should writers even be concerned with being ethical in the first place? In his review of Shameem Black’s Fiction Across Borders, Louis Chude-Sokei, author of The Last Darky, looks at how we look at fiction about the "other." Along the way he takes blandly utopian multiculturalism to task and examines how disdain and cross-cultural respect have come to seem interchangeable.
Accompanying images are courtesy of Berlin-based artist Paul Tyree-Francis.
Around Halloween the question was asked is "blackface Hitler" a culturally acceptable costume? Would it be viewed as an example of, as Louis Chude-Sokei says, "meta-anti-racism" or a bad joke in the worst kind of taste? Both? Chude-Sokei is the author of The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora, a finalist for the 2005 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. With a perspective rooted in African diaspora, here he paints a sharp contrast between recent incidents of blackface in American pop culture, such as this season’s premiere of Madmen and Robert Downery Jr. in Tropic Thunder, and blackface traditions outside the U.S. in Mexico, Turkey and West Africa. As in his recent talk on murdered African reggae star Lucky Dube, Chude-Sokei offers a unique perspective on the communication between cultures.