Uneasy "homecoming" in Alain Mabanckou's Lumières de Pointe-Noire
Self archived versionfinal draft
MetadataShow full item record
CitationToivanen Anna-Leena. (2017). Uneasy "homecoming" in Alain Mabanckou's Lumières de Pointe-Noire. Studies in Travel Writing, Published online: 06 Sep 2017, 10.1080/13645145.2017.1360276.
Alain Mabanckou’s Lumières de Pointe-Noire (2013) is a travelogue in which the celebrated Los Angeles-based author returns to his native Congo-Brazzaville after 23 years of absence. As is typical in postcolonial travel writing, Mabanckou’s text foregrounds the traveller’s identity dilemmas. The “homecoming” is marked by a sense of unease. Firstly, this unease manifests itself thematically in how the text negotiates the traveller’s identity along the native versus tourist axis, and in the oscillation between nostalgia and loss. Secondly, unease marks the representation of the “homecoming” as witnessed by the text’s attempts to destabilise the centrality of the travelling I/eye and the confinement of the white female photographer to the narrative’s margins. These elements betray the author–narrator’s struggle to claim that he belongs to the present tense of his childhood city, the tensions his socio-economic privilege generate, and the complexities relating to the narrator’s centrality and authorship with regard to a literary genre that is marked by its white/colonial roots. In this sense, Lumières de Pointe-Noire addresses issues that are relevant to postcolonial travel writing more generally.