The Ethnic Labelling of a Genre Gone Global: A Distant Comparison of African-American and African Chick Lit

Publication year

in 2010, the South Africa-based MME Media Group started Nollybooks, a series of easy-to-read, chick-lit romance fiction titles with South African storylines and characters. These bookazines, a combination of the book and magazine format, are cheap, rather short, and interactive, with word puzzles, quizzes, and a glossary of difficult words at the back – features that according to Nollybooks founder Moky Makura appeal to the local, mostly poor, and often partially illiterate black audience. In contrast to Sapphire Press, and chick lit in general, there are no sex scenes included “because of the high incidence of AIDS in South Africa” (Mabuse and Wither 2011). [...] Three years later, in 2013, StoryMoja, a publishing house in Kenya, launched the Drumbeat-Romance-Series. There was “a call for authors to submit chick lit stories with the intention of creating a local version of the UK’s Mills and Boon in e-Book format” (Abrams 2014). Their initial plan was to tie in with the success of the non-novelistic, already existing chick-lit genre in Kenyan monthly magazines and weekly newspaper pull-outs.

Right now, there is not much discussion surrounding those imprints, which were, according to the media, supposed to close the African chick-lit gap. Either this gap was not so large after all, or, more likely, the label just did not stand the test. In any case, the product – contemporary Anglophone romance novels with African settings and storylines, and strong female characters – continues to exist without the label. (321-322)