Ethics of Truths and the Diasporic Novel: Radical Ethics in Ben Okri's The Famished Road

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


This study queries into the ethical functions of diasporic fiction through carrying out a textual as well as a contextual study of The Famished Road. As an account of the politically marginal and the socially displaced, the diasporic novel is imbued with a singularity of form and content. Formally speaking, diasporic fiction is non-canonical, since it belongs to the space between nations and cultures. Furthermore, it partakes of a dialogic form which novelizes minor discourses and genres. In terms of content, the diasporic fiction opens up and narrates a liminal space and consists of the search for a utopian alternative to the dystopian status quo. The concurrence of these four qualities turns the diasporic novel into an account of experience at its extremes. However, the diasporic fiction is ethically radical not because it shows how different human experience is at the moment of exception, but because it points toward what Badiou calls an ethics of truths in singular situations. The diasporic experience results in a radical ethical system of truths that, far from succumbing to an overarching ethics of difference and a logic of us versus them, highlights the human truth at the heart of the experience of diaspora.


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