File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2003/postcolonial.0306, message 45

Date: 12 Jun 2003 03:39:04 EDT
Subject: Re: No. 1 Ladies and other poco detectives

I haven't read them myself, but black British writer Mike Phillips has written a number of  detective thrillers: Blood Rights, The Late Candidate,  Point of Darkness, An Image to Die For, The Dancing Face, and A Shadow of Myself. 

Josna Rege

--On Wednesday, June 11, 2003 4:21 PM -0400 Ed Wiltse <> 

> I'd be interested to read any responses to Alexander McCall Smith's
> series of detective stories set in Botswana, the first of which is *The
> No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency*, and all of which are selling like mad
> here in the U.S. these days (after an unusual and interesting publishing
> history, beginning on a small Edinburgh press, then picked up by Paragon
> in the UK and distributed by Columbia UP here, and then bought by Random
> House, who're currently schlepping Book Club editions, audio versions,
> and a movie directed by Anthony Minghella soon to come...).  The first
> novel seemed to me the perfect concoction to sell to middle class
> American liberals of the book club sort--feminist and pro-African in the
> most generic ways, and neatly sanitized in its presentation of poco
> Africa.  And yet, for all that, I have to say that I found the central
> character, a "traditionally built" Botswanan woman, somewhat charming,
> and the turn Smith does on the usual detective formula quite interesting.
> And while of course I wish Americans were reading more complex fictions
> of Botswana by a Botswanan (Smith was born and raised in then-Rhodesia,
> and, after university in Edinburgh, taught law in Botswana before
> assuming his current post at Edinburgh), I suppose if its Smith or John
> Grisham (or Sue Grafton) we're taking to the beach this summer, I'd vote
> for Smith.   While we're talking detectives and mysteries, I'd be glad
> for suggestions of other postcolonial writers who've experimented with
> the genre.  I like Sembene's story "Black Girl," and especially
> Chamoiseau's novel *Solibo Magnificent*.  What else should I be reading?
> Ahhh summer...
> Ed Wiltse
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