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From British Lake to Afrasian Sea: Recalibrations of the Indian Ocean in Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s “The Dragonfly Sea”
ABSTRACT This essay aims to show that Yvonne Owuor’s novel The Dragonfly Sea (2019), the first major East African novel exploring Africa’s relations to China, breaks new ground in African literature. Recalibrations of the Indian Ocean lie at the heart of this extraordinary text that explores Africa’s role in a multipolar world where the centrality of Europe and North America has already given way to complex new realignments between countries, cultures, memories, and people, and is likely to erode even further in the future. Owuor’s novel has crossed a threshold into a new phase of African literature that can by no stretch of the imagination be called “postcolonial” any longer. It is not the ideologically constituted “friendship between peoples,” but the struggle to find connections between individuals that constitutes the Afrasian space in this novel, and it is relations that constitute home, not territory, biology, or culture.
KEYWORDS Afrasia, African maritime literature, Africa–China relations, Indian Ocean, multilingualism