Kossi-Komla-Ebri : an African voice in Italian contemporary literature.
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The early eighties saw Italy become a landing bay for thousands of immigrants who abandoned their homes in search of a better life. Almost immediately, Italian academics highlighted the importance of this new phenomenon but tended to emphasize the superficial aspects that all immigrants in Italy had in common, aspects linked to the way of life of the newly arrived immigrants which in essence was very different from the Italian way of life. Soon however, the need for the migrants to be heard grew and La Letteratura della Migrazione was born. This world-wide literary phenomenon manifested itself at a much later date in Italy, compared to other European countries, largely due to the fact that a cultural tradition imposed by colonialism did not exist. Paradoxically, it is this very lack of colonial history that has given Italian migrant writers the freedom to express themselves in a style of literature that is original and primarily spontaneous and in many ways different to other Italian writers. It is against this background that Kossi Komla-Ebri writes in Italian, the language he embraces by choice. Although this dissertation focuses initially on the first African migrant writers, it is primarily a detailed study of the characters in Komla-Ebri’s novel Neyla (2002) and in his collection of short stories All’incrocio dei sentieri (2003). In the broader sense, it explores those themes in his narrative common to migrant literature in general, such as the journey, alienation, otherness, loss of identity and the return home. While it is true that these themes represent universal archetypes present in literature since Homer, the study looks predominantly at how Komla-Ebri’s thematic exposition differs from other works in the same general categories. The study shows how in exploring and expounding the constant divide between two continents and two cultures, Komla-Ebri succeeds with great compassion and humanity not only to bridge the gap between diverse identities, but also to break away from the African/migrant writer category.