Neil ten Kortenaar

Emeritus Professor


Areas of Interest

  • World Literature in English


Neil ten Kortenaar teaches African, Caribbean, and South Asian literature. He has published a book on Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (McGill-Queen's 2004), another on Images of Reading and Writing in African and Caribbean literature (Cambridge 2011), and another called Debt Law Realism: Nigerian Novelists Imagine the State at Independence (2021). His current research focuses on imagining state formation in postcolonial literature from India, Africa, and the Americas. This is a longstanding interest that has informed many publications, including an article on "Fictive States and the State of Fiction in Africa" in Comparative Literature 2000 and "Oedipus, Ogbanje, and the Sons of Independence" in Research in African Literatures (2007). He wrote the chapter on "Multiculturalism and Globalization" for The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature (2009). 


Books and Articles 

Debt Law Realism: Nigerian Novelists Imagine the State at Independence

Postcolonial Literature and the Impact of Literacy: Reading and Writing in African and Caribbean Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011. 224 pp.

Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004. 317 pp.

Refereed Articles and Chapters

"The Reinvention of the Novel in Africa." Cambridge History of World Literature. Ed. Debjani Ganguly. New York: Cambridge UP, 2021. 621-35. 

"West African Literature in English." A Companion to African Literatures. Ed. Olakunle George. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020. 319-32.

“The Half Lives of African Fictive States.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 6.2 (2019): 163-78.
“Afterword: Arrows of Achebe.” Special Issue: “Arrow of God after Fifty Years.” Research in African Literatures 49.4 (2018): 127-30.

“Delhi/Ahmednagar Fort - Washington DC/Birmingham Jail - Pretoria/Robben Island 1947-1994; or, Race, Colonialism, Postcolonialism.” A Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory. Ed. Imre Szeman, Sarah Blacker, and Justin Sully. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017. 115-28.

“Explication de texte: Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 3.3 (2016): 379-85.

“The Novel in English in Africa to 1950.” The Oxford History of the Novel in English. Vol. 9 The World Novel to 1950. Ed. Ralph Crane, Jane Stafford, and Mark Williams. Oxford: OUP, 2016. 91-114.

“The Stream of ‡Khomani Stories.” Or Words to That Effect: Orality and the Writing of Literary History. A Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages Vol. XXVIII. Ed. Daniel F. Chamberlain and J. Edward Chamberlin. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2016. 243-55.

“‘Touching Them into Words’: Running with Michael Ondaatje among the Dead.” University of Toronto Quarterly 84.4 (2015): 15-28. Special Issue: “To Make a Difference: A Memorial Tribute to Chelva Kanaganayakam.”

“Rule, Law, and the Rule of Law in Achebe’s Novels of Colonization.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 2.1 (2015): 33-51. Special issue: “Law and Literature in the Postcolony.”

“Utopia, Village, Nation-State.” The Good Place: Comparative Perspectives on Utopia. Ed. Florian Mussgnug and Matthew Reza. Berlin: Peter Lang, 2014. 69-88.

“Mr Biswas Finds a Home in the World on Paper.” V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas: Critical Perspectives. Ed. Meenakshi Bharat. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2013. 168-186.

"Show and Tell: Midnight's Children and 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' Revisited." Salman Rushdie and Visual Culture: Celebrating Impurity, Disrupting Borders. Ed. Ana Cristina Mendes. New York: Routledge, 2011. 106-22.

“Wole Soyinka” (pp. 1356-60), “Realism/Magic Realism” (pp. 1303-5), “Amos Tutuola” (pp. 1368-9), “Ama Ata Aidoo” (pp. 948-9). The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction. Vol. III Twentieth-Century World Fiction. Ed. John Clement Ball. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

“Achebe’s Arrow of God and the World on Paper.” Novel 42.3 (2009): 467-73.

“Things Fall Apart in History.” Interventions 11.2 (2009): 166-70.

“Multiculturalism and Globalization.” The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature. Ed. Eva-Marie Kroller and Coral Ann Howells. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 556-79.

“Fearful Symmetry: Salman Rushdie and Prophetic Newness.” Twentieth-Century Literature 54.3 (2008): 339-61.

Rpt. in Mapping Out the Rushdie Republic: Some Recent Surveys. Ed. Tapan Kumar Ghosh and Prasanta Bhattacharyya. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2016. 134-54.

“Fathers and Ancestors in Charles Mungoshi’s Waiting for the Rain.” Manning the Nation: Father Figures in Zimbabwean Literature and Society. Eds. K.Z. Muchemwa and Robert Muponde. Johannesburg: Jacana; Harare: Weaver Press, 2007. 31-45.

“Oedipus, Ogbanje, and the Sons of Independence.” Research in African Literatures 38.2 (2007): 181-205.

“Chinua Achebe and the Question of Modern African Tragedy.” Philosophia Africana 9.2 (2006): 83-100. Special issue: “Chinua Achebe.” Rpt. in Things Fall Apart: Authoritative Text, Contexts and Criticism/Chinua Achebe. Ed. Francis Abiola Irele. New York: Norton, 2009. 323-43.

“Parents, Children, and Fools.” Scrutiny 2 11.1 (2006): 65-79.

“We Are Waiting for You Whites to Tell Us Your Stories.” Postcolonial Text [on-line] 2.3 (2006). 10pp.

“Becoming African and the Death of Ikemefuna.” University of Toronto Quarterly 73.2 (2004): 773-94.

“Nega Mezlekia Outside the Hyena’s Belly.” Canadian Literature 172 (2002): 41-68.

“Salman Rushdie’s Magic Realism and the Return of Inescapable Romance.” University of Toronto Quarterly 71.3 (2002): 765-85.

“Fictive States and the State of Fiction in Africa.” Comparative Literature 52.3 (2000): 228-45.


PhD, University of Toronto