Women’s Abandonment and Illness in African Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Varied illnesses suffered by women are portrayed in African literature, and the portrayals reveal the complex sources of female distress. This chapter focuses on several literary evocations of psychological and emotional disorders that cause bodily illness. In the prominent African novels under consideration, the ailments that afflict women have, to a telling degree, psychological or emotional underpinnings. In drawing attention to the sources of psychic and somatic disorder in the lives of a wide range of thoughtful and resilient female characters, these works underscore the power of familial and societal conditions not only to enable wholeness in women’s lives but also to induce pathology. At the same time, the delineation of feminine emotional and physical distress in these works serves to emphasize the importance of women to the well-being of the African societies portrayed and to the potential of women and their societies to thrive in the long term. The African novels considered in this discussion are Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease (1960), Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Flora Nwapa’s Efuru (1966), Mariama Bâ‘s So Long a Letter (1979), and Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story (1991).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDisease and Discrimination
Subtitle of host publicationGender Discrimination during the Pandemic in South Asia and Beyond
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781040042793
ISBN (Print)9781032776903
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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