A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish. Walter Abish has dovetailed his novel within a Procrustean scheme that has the terrifying and irrefutable logic of the alphabet. Alphabetical. Alphabetical Africa kept cropping up again and again, so here it is. In this novel, as you can probably tell from the first line quoted above, there.

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Most of the other humor borders on lunatic slapstick, and works in some parts, not so much at others. A very strange book and one that requires a lot of concentration from the reader.

Even the most constrained chapters make at least some sort of sense.

Walter Abish is an American author of alphabetcal novels and short stories. Views Read Edit View history. O ver all, it is fairly imaginative but it lacks focus and often digresses into abstraction.

Alphabetical Africa

In Tanzania, transvestite Queen Quat is painting her country orange and declaring war on Zanzibar. Quantitatively speaking, the constrain writing limits the length of each chapter. By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Z ooming in and out effects do make for an interesting technique worth checking out. Please provide an email address. Further suggestions might be found on the article’s talk page. And just to be clear about the argument I’m proposing: At least it is meant to be, but all sorts of other things come up as well while Alva proves particularly difficult to pin down.


Alphabeticaal English translation, A Voidwas true to its linguistic esprit. The shtick is working through the alphabet from beginning to end, then back again, in 52 infinitesimal chapters; the trick is to use only words beginning with the letter of that chapter or ones previous in the first, words commencing with A; in the second, words beginning with either A or B.

In this novel, as you can probably tell from the first line quoted above, there is a limitation on the letter words start with. That’s because, unlike those afria, Abish does not try to match his stories with the constraints he gives himself. I can’t recommend it unequivocally, but it’s worth a read and is short enough that you can justify the indulgence. First of all, I was surprised at how much sense Abish makes in the first chapter. Stoically he faces their loss then too, realizing that they offered less than he had originally arica.

Second, I agree that the plot is occasionally amusing, but wouldn’t say it is particularly engaging or inventive, and IMO using the Swahili dictionary in the way that it is used in the story is more of a cheap trick. But it also gives a lot to the story. It is written entirely using A-words only, with an absurdist sci-fi bent.


Zoo is another image linked to Africa. This site uses cookies. The vocabulary is expanded, letter by letter and chapter by chapter, through Z. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.

Alphabetical Africa – Walter Abish – Google Books

But here, it all appears wickedly simple. Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. The story was grasping.

Alphabegical after a while several shortcomings raise their ugly heads: T erritory of Africa expands and contracts just as the language does. SinceAbish Walter Abish is an American author of experimental novels and short stories. He has a dictionary.

Tolerance of the difficulties in reading the whole book could also be considered as one alphabetkcal of reception? Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. Unlike a regular book, namely Conrad’s, it is a master piece in terms of cultural narratology. One point of dispute is whether the failures to meet the constraint are intentional, and therefore potentially meaningful, or are simply editing mistakes.