Black and White Photographs in Caryl Phillip’s, Andrea Levy’s and Teju Cole’s Literary Texts

  • Maria Festa Università di Torino


It is possible to argue that literature, per se, embodies various frameworks of information. Moreover, every time authors blend them together in the narration, they eventually provide a text whose words also function as a stimulus to readers’ imagination. Images, whether in the form of the mental pictures produced in our minds during the act of reading or of photographs, work in tandem to convey meaning and make intersections between literature and photography achievable. In this paper I will provide some evidence of the intersections between Anglophone postcolonial literature and photography. The postcard pinned up on the wall above Caryl Phillips’s desk is the source of his play The Shelter (1984) that involves the subjects of that picture: a white woman and a black man. In Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island (2004) and in its adapted television drama (2009) photographs give a material form to the memory of individuals’ existence. In Teju Cole’s novella Every Day Is for the Thief (2007) the unnamed narrator depicts his journey to Lagos—his place of birth—through the intermixing of words with black and white pictures.


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