Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Black Insider by Dambudzo Marechera: A review

To call The Black Insider a novel may be somewhat misleading. It is a loosely autobiographical account of the author’s stay in the “Faculty of Arts,” in time of “war.” Barricaded inside his room in the building he shares with an eclectic group of tenants, Marechera comments on the war without, mirroring excellently the one that rages within. The Black Insider captures the profoundness and insanity that characterise much of this author’s work. Despite his erratic style that has the potential to lose the reader in a morass of philosophical musings, we start to see the relationships between colour and space. We see the complexity of understanding and accepting one’s identity as black or white, and the impatience of the rest of the world with the individual who struggles with this process. And so Marechera creates an inside, and an outside, and blacks and whites and we end up with a black insider on our hands, in our lives, in us even, perhaps. And then in typical fashion, that which makes Marechera arguably the problem child of African literature, there is the element of damning everything to hell.

In the end, we are confronted with the explosive violence that characterise the author’s subject matter, the kind of violence that people generally want to sweep under the rug. The cast of characters is superb and profound, alluding to a well-compiled list of authors, philosophers and scientists. There is something in the Black Insider for all.

Submitted by Annette Quarcoopome
First appeared in Pambazuka Online Newsletter for Social Justice published by Fahamu.

No comments:

Post a Comment