Talking Books: The Paratextuality of African Literary Podcasts

James Hodapp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, literary critics have grown concerned that serious literary criticism is slowly being replaced by a literary culture of endorsement that has proliferated online. They fear that ‘hot takes,’ listicles and simplified systems of ranking books (‘buy or don’t buy,’ star ratings and so on) are gaining cultural currency while serious analysis and critique is going out of style. One critic, Christian Lorentzen, even wonders: ‘What if a generation of writers grew up with nobody to criticize them?’ At the same time, reviews, interviews and other content concerning African literature have become widely available online. In particular, African literary podcasts have become increasingly popular and influential. By examining the nature of paratextuality, via Gérard Genette, in reference to African literary podcasts, this article examines whether African literary podcasts are contributing to this decline, offering audio equivalents of traditional reviews or creating an innovative mode of critique. It concludes that African literary podcasts are sui generis and provide both substantive critique and an outlet for voices traditionally marginalized from mainstream literary discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalEnglish Studies in Africa
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • African literature
  • Afropolitanism
  • Bulaq
  • literary criticism
  • Not Another Book Podcast
  • paratextuality
  • podcasts
  • popular culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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