The fourteen essays in this volume contribute significantly to a consideration of the interplay between nation and narration that currently dominates both literary and cultural studies. With the fervent reassertion of tribal domains throughout the world, and with the consequent threat to the stability of a common discourse in putative countries once mapped and subsequently dominated by colonizing powers, the need for such studies becomes increasingly obvious. Whose idea of a nation is to prevail throughout these postcolonial territories; whose claims to speak for a people are to be legitimized by international agreement; amid the demands of patriotic rhetoric, what role may be allowed for individual expression that attempts to transcend the immediate political agenda; who may assume positions of authority in defining an ethnic paradigm — such are the questions variously addressed in this volume. The essayists who here contribute to the discussion are students of the various national literatures that are now becoming more generally available in the West. The range of topics is broad — moving globally from the Caribbean and South America, through the African continent, and on to the Indian subcontinent, and moving temporally through the nineteenth century and into the closing days of our twentieth. We deal with poetry, fiction, and theoretical writings, and have two types of reader in mind: We hope to introduce the uninitiated to the breadth of this expanding field, and we hope to aid those with a specialized knowledge of one or other of these literatures in their consideration of the extent to which post-colonial writing may or may not form a reasonably unified field. We seek to avoid the new form of colonialism that might impose a theoretical template to these quite divergent writings, falsely rendering it all accessible and familiar. At the same time, we do note questions and concerns that cross borders, whether these imagined lines are spatial, temporal, gendered or racial.