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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Postcolonial Literature

Definition:

When the British Empire was at its height in the early part of the 20th century, it covered over 22% of the world's land area. Think about that for a minute. King George V ruled over almost a quarter of the globe. Now that's power.

And when you have that much power, there's bound to be some backlash. In literature, that backlash comes to us in the form of postcolonial literature, which depicts the life of colonized—or formerly colonized—people. You know, those regular folks who were living in Africa or India under European rule, or in its aftermath. So it's no surprise, then, that postcolonial works often address issues of identity, the loss of traditionforeignnesspower, and contrasting regions.

Classics of postcolonial literature include Chinua Achebe's Things Fall ApartKamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve, and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea.