Black Canadian Literature as Diaspora Transgression: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

Andrea Davis


This paper attempts to interrogate some of the challenges involved in the articulation of a black Canadian literature and suggests that such a literature may best be understood not as a set of “coherent” national narratives but as a complex engagement of the multiple diasporic experiences that inform and influence understandings of Canadian-ness. The study argues, therefore, that the very diasporic character of black Canadian literature—its pluralism and heterogeneity—articulate a deliberately transgressive Canadian-ness. By linking narrative and social geographies, the paper situates the works of black women writers in the Americas as part of a tradition of the counter-novel, involved in acts of boundary crossing and cultural and textual unmanageability. The paper explores finally the disruptive, but also potentially liberating, function of the literature by engaging in a detailed discussion of Esi Edugyan’s novel The Second Life of Samuel Tyne.

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