Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Margaret Laurence’s best-known books are the series of four novels and the short-story collection that have been called the Manawaka works, named after the fictional town in central Canada from which all the major characters originate. The series consists of The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), which was made into the motion picture Rachel, Rachel in 1968, The Fire-Dwellers (1969), A Bird in the House, and The Diviners (1974). Although this is not a series in the sense of sequels, the characters are related through their birthplace and memories, as well as some by birth, as in William Faulkner’s imaginary Yoknapatawpha County.

Laurence also translated Somali folktales and poetry, published as A Tree for Poverty: Somali Poetry and Prose in 1954, the first collection of Somali literature ever published in English. The novel This Side Jordan (1960) tells the story of Ghanna’s emergence as a nation. New Wind in a Dry Land (1964) is an account of Laurence’s first two years in Somaliland, describing both her experiences and the life of Somali nomads; it was also published under the title The Prophet’s Camel Bell. In the field of literary criticism, Laurence wrote Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists, 1952-1966 (1968), a study of Nigerian novelists and dramatists writing in English. She also wrote four novels for children.