‘Les lendemains de révolution avortée’: Nathalie Etoke's bipolar narratives of doomed national romance
Nathalie Etoke’s novels Un amour sans papiers (1999) and Je vois du soleil dans tes yeux (2008) deal with the hardships of the African postcolonial condition in the global era through the trope of doomed romance. In these novels, the plight of the postcolonial nation-state drives people to emigrate in a search for more viable prospects. While the mobility theme addressed in her novels is typical of third-generation African literatures in general, Etoke’s vision simultaneously struggles against the postnationalist currents informing this literary paradigm. Indeed, Etoke’s novels are quite loud and didactic in their articulations of political commitment towards the nation and the continent. Etoke holds on to the anticolonial romance narrative, but at the same time cannot ignore its inevitable failures in the present. This leads to a tension that marks her work by giving it a bipolar character, one that manifests itself in the constant oscillation between utopianism and disillusionment. The bipolar quality of the texts betrays a discomfort that the narratives’ promotion of an anticolonial struggle for nationhood and decolonisation generate in a postcolonial era that keeps witnessing the failures of these romantic discourses to realise themselves. A close reading of the novels reveals that this discomfort finds its articulation in the narrative fabric of the texts.
Keywords: anticolonial romance narrative, bipolar narratives, Nathalie Etoke, postcolonial condition