Not at Home in the World: Abject Mobilities in Marie NDiaye's Trois femmes puissantes and NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names

Anna-Leena Toivanen


The theme of mobility recurs frequently in the works of third-generation novelists. This article focuses on two recent Africa-affiliated novels, namely We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Trois femmes puissantes by Marie NDiaye. While these two texts employ very different narrative and stylistic means, they both explore the thematic of mobility with pronouncedly abject connotations. In Bulawayo’s novel, abjection is the condition of the crisis-ridden postcolonial nation-state and it also marks the characters associated with this abject context through national affiliation. NDiaye’s approach to abjection focuses on the psychological and the private, but the roots of abjection in her novel can be traced back to the multivalent aftermath of the colonial enterprise in Africa and the contemporary mobilities it has generated. Both novels draw attention to the complex reasons behind abject African mobilities and why they become defined as such in the first place.


Abjection; African literature; cosmopolitanism; mobility

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