Plastic Form and the Extro- and Emergent versions of Christopher Mlalazi’s Running with Mother

This paper attempts to forge new methods for reading emergent literary strategies and forms in contemporary African fiction. Arguing that the novel is no longer the most efficient literary form in environments of radically asymmetrical power and uneven and unequal development, this paper considers the formal strategies of various versions of a story by Zimbabwean writer Christopher Mlalazi. Mlalazi’s story appeared first as a short story on a Swedish blog in 2011. It was then published as a novel, Running with Mother in 2012 by Zimbabwean-based Weaver press. In that same year, the story was also adapted into a play script. The original version of the story, which was written in 2010, has been published in a book collection of Zimbabwean stories entitled Writing Lives in 2013. This kind of plasticity of literary form requires a methodology that is not only able to describe the material forces undergirding the writing, production and circulation of these texts, but one that also accounts for how such material forces – both global and local – impact on literary form.

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author Ashleigh Harris

Journal of African Cultural Studies

DOI: 10.1080/13696815.2017.1365594
published 2017