The present reading of Zakes Mda’s fifth book, The Whale Caller, aims at capturing the peculiarity of a novel which, besides bringing to the fore the basic material necessities of its characters, is also able to suggest that living beings harbour deep, less tangible and less palpable needs, which make life worth living and must, therefore, be perceived and acknowledged. Within this framework, I also suggest that the novel deals with distinctly human concerns without universalising the human perspective. I argue that The Whale Caller is too firmly anthropocentric to engage, as some scholars have maintained, with the crossing of interspecies boundaries, and at the same time that, revolving primarily around the human sphere, the novel does adopt a slanted, ‘anthropoeccentric’ outlook. The attention paid throughout the narrative to the spiritual dimension of life, one that concerns both human and non-human animals, prompts the reader to recognise the importance of taking into account both the material and the intangible aspects of existence. Besides, suggestions of a deep interconnectedness, not only among living beings, but also between them and traditionally considered non-living entities, are disseminated in the book. Accordingly, the present contribution seeks to counterbalance recent readings of the novel that – albeit particularly insightful in their analyses of eco-social global/local concerns – tend to disregard the spiritual dimension of the novel, which is shared among various characters and apparently pervades both human and non-human experience.

Sharing Life on Earth: Material and Immaterial Needs in The Whale Caller / G. Iannaccaro. - In: ENGLISH IN AFRICA. - ISSN 0376-8902. - 48:2(2021), pp. 43-62. [10.4314/eia.v48i2.3]

Sharing Life on Earth: Material and Immaterial Needs in The Whale Caller

G. Iannaccaro
2021

Abstract

The present reading of Zakes Mda’s fifth book, The Whale Caller, aims at capturing the peculiarity of a novel which, besides bringing to the fore the basic material necessities of its characters, is also able to suggest that living beings harbour deep, less tangible and less palpable needs, which make life worth living and must, therefore, be perceived and acknowledged. Within this framework, I also suggest that the novel deals with distinctly human concerns without universalising the human perspective. I argue that The Whale Caller is too firmly anthropocentric to engage, as some scholars have maintained, with the crossing of interspecies boundaries, and at the same time that, revolving primarily around the human sphere, the novel does adopt a slanted, ‘anthropoeccentric’ outlook. The attention paid throughout the narrative to the spiritual dimension of life, one that concerns both human and non-human animals, prompts the reader to recognise the importance of taking into account both the material and the intangible aspects of existence. Besides, suggestions of a deep interconnectedness, not only among living beings, but also between them and traditionally considered non-living entities, are disseminated in the book. Accordingly, the present contribution seeks to counterbalance recent readings of the novel that – albeit particularly insightful in their analyses of eco-social global/local concerns – tend to disregard the spiritual dimension of the novel, which is shared among various characters and apparently pervades both human and non-human experience.
Zakes Mda; postcolonial ecocriticism; anthropocentrism; eccentricity; immaterial needs
Settore L-LIN/10 - Letteratura Inglese
2021
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/906956
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