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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Each chapter is meant to only contain words beginning with the letters of the alphabet up to whatever the chapter-heading-letter is — so the fifth and the forty-eighth chapter both “E” only contain words beginning with A, B, C, D, and E, while the 25th and 28th chapter “Y” can contain words beginning afrjca any letter except Z.

The constraints ideally should serve a nobler purpose, that is to expand the horizon of the literary universe. What struck me was how quickly, as the book opened up to using a wider vocabulary, the language felt natural.

ALPHABETICAL AFRICA by Walter Abish | Kirkus Reviews

T echnique of narration nicely parallels the content in this manner. Further suggestions might be found on the article’s talk page. Not sure it’s for me but it’s at least fun to read about it. Chapter two adds words starting with B.


Throughout the s, he wrote short stories that demonstrated a variety of unique writing formats. Should alphaetical friend move away, do our daily lives not change much or at least not change in ways that we notice until much later, once more friends have moved away. A very strange book and one that requires a lot of concentration from the reader. There are also other plots to the novel. Another abbreviation another abdomen another abduction another aberration another abhorrent ass another abnormal act another aboriginal agish approach another absence N arrative covers many aspects – murder, loot, chase, battles, ant extermination, colonization, foreign investors, changing African landscape and culture, amorous escapades – and much more.

The writing is restricted by a pseudo- alliterative rule: I dreamt of the structure. There are attacks of colonies of ants.

In Alphabetical Africa, for instance, the first chapter consists entirely of words beginning with the letter “A. Y ou should read this only if you have a strong interest in experimental styles.


A major character introduced in the first Q chapter is named Queen Quat. Meanwhile, each chapter in the first half of the book adds another letter, and each chapter in the second half subtracts one, and the machinery of that expansion and contraction works alongside the stories but almost never to any determinate purpose.

The book is hard to read, needless to say to read out loud. I do find I want the relationship between form and content to be acknowledged in some manner: Newer Post Older Post Home. I’m not entirely sure what the story was about, except that it was some rather undefined travels through an unrealistic Africa.


The story was grasping. Similar mistakes of spelling and grammar occur in other Abish works, such as How German Is Itwhere exact presentation is clearly a priority, and thus the mistakes come across as intentional.

Alphabetical Africa

May 19, Jonny rated it did not like it. Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish is a language game which provides beauty and ugliness, story and non-story and make for a difficult read. B rilliant, albeit a bit boring, alphabetical adventure amuses.

Are we to read as Oulipeans for part of one sentence, and then forget that regimen, and think instead about the plot? When I get to the descending part of letters, it gets a bit annoyed.

So, with all these sentences, I believe it did take the author quite sometime to compose this oeuvre. A rts and ambiance. Mar 20, Rhys rated it really liked it.

I begin to applause for the technics. Mentioning my memory makes me feel insecure. It is waler in the form of a novel.