Writing That Breaks Stones: African Child Soldier Narratives is a critical examination of six memoirs and six novels written by and about young adults from Africa who were once child soldiers. It analyzes both how such narratives document human rights violations and how they connect and disconnect from their readers in the global public sphere. It draws on literary scholarship about novels and memoirs, as well as on fieldwork conducted by social scientists about African children in combat situations. The six memoirs analyzed in Writing That Breaks Stones focus on a lone individual’s struggles in a hostile environment, and they use repetition, logical contradictions, narrative breaks, and reversals of binaries in order to tell their stories. By contrast, the novels use narrative ambiguity, circularity, fragmentation, and notions of dystopia in ways that call attention to the child soldiers’ communities and environments. All twelve narratives depict the child soldier’s agency and culpability somewhat ambiguously, effectively reflecting the ethical dilemmas of African children in combat.
JOYA URAIZEE is Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of English at Saint Louis University in Missouri. She is the author of This Is No Place for a Woman: Nadine Gordimer, Nayantara Saghal, Buchi Emecheta and the Politics of Gender (2000) and In the Jaws of the Leviathan: Genocide Fiction and Film (2010).
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