Magical Realism as Protest. Nnedi Okorafor's 'Who Fears Death'

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2024

14 Pages, Grade: 4

Abstract or Introduction

Nnedi Okorafor's novel, "Who Fears Death," published in 2011, has garnered considerable critical acclaim primarily as a work of speculative fiction. While existing analyses have delved into the novel's speculative nature, one aspect that has received limited attention is its magical realist elements. This paper aims to explore Okorafor's use of magical realism in "Who Fears Death," acknowledging the global significance of magical realism as an alternative narrative strategy.

Magical realism is recognized as a dominant form of fiction in the contemporary world, with widespread participation by writers from diverse cultural backgrounds. Okorafor's novel, positioned within this literary diaspora, employs magical realism to convey a unique perspective on Africa's hybridity, history, spirituality, and culture. The paper adopts magical realism as its interpretative model to investigate key features present in the novel.

The analysis reveals that "Who Fears Death" incorporates notable magical realist motifs, such as the manifestation of resistance, the trope of 'the book-within-a book,' and the use of critics and tricksterism techniques. These elements, typical of magical realist narratives, serve not only to astonish readers, as in fantasy literature, but also function as a critique of Western realist narration. Importantly, they act as powerful tools of protest against issues like oppressive regimes, female genital mutilation, ethnic crises, genocide, rape, and power abuse—persistent challenges faced by postcolonial African nations.

Okorafor's choice of magical realism as a protest tool amplifies her critique, making her message more poignant and explicit. Through the novel, she contends that until Africans collectively confront and resist the societal ills hindering progress, embracing values of peace and love, they will remain entangled in the quagmire of hate, corruption, war, political crises, and underdevelopment.

In essence, "Who Fears Death" emerges not just as a speculative fiction piece but as a poignant magical realist narrative that transcends geographical boundaries to address universal socio-political issues, using Africa's rich cultural tapestry as a lens for exploration.


Magical Realism as Protest. Nnedi Okorafor's 'Who Fears Death'
Ahmadu Bello University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction, Irreducible Elements, Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death
Quote paper
Terese Uwuave (Author), 2024, Magical Realism as Protest. Nnedi Okorafor's 'Who Fears Death', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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