Who am I writing for?
Written by
Bwandungi Mugarura
September 2012
Written by
Bwandungi Mugarura
September 2012

I'm new to the network and catching up on a very interesting discussion regarding Urban Literature. Many of the sentiments in the responses echoed the feelings in my heart and as always I have had to take a few steps back and examine my own motives for writing.

I love African literature. The bright yellow sun, luscious green hills, exotic languages rolling of your tongue - that was my upbringing. For my O-Levels I studied Wole Soyinka's plays alongside Shakespeare, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's poetry, and Chinua Achebe. Those were the authors who inspired me to write as a teenager.

Like African-American popular literature, African literature is usually pigeon holed. If poverty porn or war are not the main subjects your novel deals with, then you may have to travel to the Continent to find a publisher who would be interested in your book.

If I write for the audience, which audience would I choose? One that would identify with the experiences of a teenager growing up in a country that is slowly piecing itself back together? And audience seeking information that is historically correct? 

Or am I writing for publishers? I sincerely hope not. But then again, we all have to make money. Right?

Or am I writing for myself? I want to see people like me reflected in a TV show, but none exists so I write a story and put myself (or someone very much like myself) in it.

Urban literature caters to a small group within a small group. While criticism of it holds, I sincerely hope that it is not the end of Urban literature. I hope everyone gets happier as it evolves and as the publishing World evolves.

Let's be friends

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  • Alexandra Caselle

    I like African literature, too. Have you read any of Adichie's books? I understand what you are saying about being pigeonholed. I would stay pure to what represents you as an author. Write what you feel compelled to write.