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Sisters and Spirits: The Postcolonial Gothic in Angelina N Sithebe’s "Holy Hill"

C Stobie


In this article I use the framework of the postcolonial Gothic to analyse Angelina N Sithebe’s Holy Hill, a novel which combines a focus on Christian religion and traditional African spirituality. Sithebe uses the convent school setting of her text to offer social critiques of power and religion in specific contexts. I highlight the postcolonial dimension of her critique by comparing aspects of the novel with Karen Armstrong’s memoir, The Spiral Staircase. In addition to social critique, however, Sithebe also uses epigraphs from biblical parables to suggest benefits which orthodox religion might offer. At the same time as she reveals the intimate connections between religion and animism, she delineates the problems of syncretism. The text derives much of its Gothic force from the uncanny voice of the narrator, a traditional spirit. I use concepts such as Musa W Dube’s “critical twinning” and Harry Garuba’s “animist realism” to explore the discomfiting, bleak vision of Sithebe’s novel.
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eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X