“Who is heard and who is silenced?” - Goethe-Institut Canada

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Contemporary Black Women’s Literature
“Who is heard and who is silenced?”

Sharon Dodua Otoo
Sharon Dodua Otoo | © Ralf Steinberger

What we think of as world history is still dominated by white men. This dominance is not only based on the selection of stylised, allegedly epoch-making figures – but also on the perspectives and identities of those telling the story. An interview with author Sharon Dodua Otoo.

In her debut novel the author, who won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016, questions our understanding of time as a linear concept oriented to growth and goals, including the male-populated version of world history we’ve accepted.

The history and stories of women across several centuries are interwoven in her novel, starting with a Ghanaian protagonist from the 15th century. Later on another character to appear is mathematician Ada Lovelace: she was the first person in history to program computers.
Adas Raum shows how the displacement of Women of Colour from the collective memory is linked with the fact that colonisers looted culturally valuable artefacts that remain in Europe even now, where casual racism and sexism still have an impact today. But Otoo’s book also tells stories that do and could exist away from the dominant narrative. 

The interview was conducted by Regine Hader.