Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Translator's Preface

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pp. vii-viii

Sony Labou Tansi is a different kind of writer. He invents words and juggles homonyms whose sounds allude to other meanings. He continually repeats deadpan phrases and cries that become the architecture of this fable: “I do not want to die this death,” “The foreign power that supplied...

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Introduction: Sony Labou Tansi—The Conscience of Africa and the Voice of the People

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pp. ix-2

Sony Labou Tansi (1947–1995) was a particularly adept manipulator of the French language and developed a reputation for making provocative statements. “I write in French,” he once claimed, “because that is the language in which the people I speak for were raped, that is the language in which...

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Warning

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pp. 3-4

Life and a Half, it’s about writing absent-mindedly. Yes, me, the one who speaks to you about the absurdity of the absurd, me, unveiling the absurdity of hopelessness—where would you like me to speak from, if not from the outside? In a time when man is more resolved than ever to kill life, how...

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1

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pp. 5-20

It was the year Chaïdana turned fifteen years old. But time. Time has tumbled. The sky, earth, things, everything. Totally tumbled. It was back when the earth was still round, when the sea was the sea—when the forest . . . No! The forest doesn’t count now that brains are full of reinforced...

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2

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pp. 21-49

“Where is she?” the Providential Guide bellowed as he stabbed his fork into the doctor’s throat.
It was a Sunday evening, Sunday being the day the Providential Guide ate raw meat from the Four Seasons. The meat was dressed with oil, vinegar, and three shots of a sophisticated...

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3

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pp. 50-57

In every country in the world, fishermen will always have the reputation of having more humanity than the rest of men. Amedandio knew he was under surveillance by the Guide’s police for instigating an attempt to remove his father’s body from Yourma’s town hall, where it was on display...

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4

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pp. 58-69

When the Providential Guide died, Martial went to bid him adieu and kept watch over him for two of the forty-eight nights of national mourning decreed by the constitution. On December 31, Martial accompanied him to the Palace of the Fifth Season, where he deposited a sheaf of writings...

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5

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pp. 70-95

It was the first week of the third month of the second year of the reign of Henry-Tender-Heart. Sir Amanazavou had just clashed with the new regime and continued to fight to take his children to school. A good pygmy son, he had already reached the asphalt street named Fraternity, which...

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6

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pp. 96-99

Guide Jean-Heart-of-Father was eating. He was eating with the adolescent he had just married (after marrying the one who replaced Chaïdana-Thick-Hair, whom the Guide had cast out because, despite her great beauty, she was like a block of wood). It was the meat the Guides ate eternally...

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7

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pp. 100-108

On the eve of his coronation, which was ninety-two hours after the voluntary martyrdom of Jean-Heartbreaker, Guide Jean-Heart-of-Stone wanted to have some fun. It was the day after he had his dream that blue was the color of God, and he had ordered that every house in Kawangotara...

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8

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pp. 109-120

Jean-Heart-of-Stone shed bitter tears for his children. The buzz was “At last, he’s learned how a cadaver weighs.” That buzz caused no deaths. That buzz caused no wounded. A curse by Chaïdana was said to be why the Guide’s children disappeared without a trace. Jean-Heart-of-Stone...

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9

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pp. 121-134

After tough negotiations, a secret exchange of twentyone billion secured the body of Jean-Heart-of-Stone for Jean Crushed-Stone, who buried him in Granita in a museumstone sculpted by Jean Calcareous, next to Chaïdana-Thick- Hair and Monsieur l’Abbé. This was the time when the trade...

About the Author

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