Stretching the Temporal Boundaries of Postmemorial Fiction: Shades of Albert Camus’ Absurd in Biyi Bandele Thomas’ Burma Boy

Abstract

Nigerian-British writer and playwright Biyi Bandele Thomas’ novel Burma Boy (2007) is inspired by his father’s combat experience in the Burma Campaign of World War Two. This postmemorial re-enactment not only commemorates his father but also the marginalised black African soldiers who participated in that campaign. Critical attention paid to Bandele’s work has noted his surrealistic and satirical style, usually in alignment with a post-colonial epistemology. This paper aims to show how the novel evokes the origins of a trauma and the futility of war within an African consciousness, alongside broader ontologies concerning the modern condition. I contend that through an aesthetics of the Absurd, as outlined by Albert Camus, Burma Boy not only evokes the absurdity of war but transcends its temporal wartime boundaries by offering a broad reflection on the fundamental cause of the author’s father’s wartime trauma: the divorce of humankind from the reality of existence. Thus, I conclude that this post-generational novel leverages an aesthetics of the Absurd to address contemporary political and environmental concerns.

Author Biography

Christina Howes, Universidad Internacional de Catalunya
Dr. Christina Howes currently lectures in contemporary literature and the cultural history of the British Isles at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and in cultural aspects of TEFL and multilingualism in the Department of Education at the International University of Catalunya. Her research interests focus mainly on examining modern British fiction which delves into themes of war, violence and conflict, specifically postmemorial works centred around World War II, using ecophilosophical frameworks.

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Published
2023-12-27
Section
Articles