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From Africa

New Francophone Stories

Adele King

Publication Year: 2004

Out of French-speaking Africa, from Togo, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Guinea, Congo, Rwanda, Djibouti, and Madagascar, comes the polyphony of new voices aired in this volume. The collection brings together fourteen important contemporary authors with roots in sub-Saharan French Africa and Madagascar, a new generation now living in France or the United States, and introduces their remarkable work to readers of English. These writers’ stories, unlike earlier African literature, seldom resemble traditional folk tales. Instead they are concerned with the postindependence world and reveal in their rich and complex depths the influence of modern European and American short-story traditions as well as the enduring reach of African myths and legends.

This gathering of gifted writers tenders modern versions of myths; nostalgia for childhood in Africa; relations between the sexes in contemporary Africa; continuing political problems; and the life of the African diaspora in France—all related in new and familiar ways, in innovative and traditional forms. Their work, most of it little known outside France and their native African countries, revises our understanding of the lingering effects of colonization even as it celebrates the complexity, exuberance, and tenacity of African culture.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvii

Before there was a written literature in French West Africa there were oral tales in indigenous languages. After colonization, African authors often wrote down tales from their cultures, which have been published in Africa and in France for many years. Tales continue to be an important genre of African literature and sell well in Europe. ...

Part 1 - New Myths

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pp. 1

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A Woman and a Half

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pp. 3-7

Marwo, young and weary of life in the shantytown, is running away from a large remnant of humanity living with sewage and rustic boredom. Marwo flees from a father who humiliates her by wanting to marry her off to a toothless old man. She flees from the hatefulness of this old goat. ...

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The Legend of Abla Pokou, Queen of the Baoule People

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pp. 8-15

According to legend, Queen Pokou had to sacrifice her child to save her people. Sacrifice her child to save her people. The child had to die. The woman tore out her own insides, closed her belly back up again, wiped out her maternal difference, and hardened her heart for good. ...

Part 2 - Nostalgia for Childhood

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pp. 17

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A Fistful of Groundnuts

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pp. 19-28

In vain do I crisscross cities, fade into the dark night; the hut is always tracking me, austere and disheveled in its dress of rusty straw, like an old ghost worn down by resentment. . . . That’s good; for the first time in a quarter century, I’m going to open my eyes, look straight at it, and reply, “Yes, it’s really me.” ...

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My Father's Lamp

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pp. 29-33

In the rainy season, twilight goes through infinite metamorphoses. Depending on the day, it indifferently grinds blue with mauve, always against an indigo background, even when the mixing involves another shade of blue; for to accurately transcribe the stars’ flight into the budding night’s heart...

Part 3 - Modern Perspectives

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pp. 35

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The Spider's Fart

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pp. 37-47

The man pushed open the door without a sound then quietly went over and sat down on the wobbly wicker chair in the corner of the office. A middle-aged man with the fine features of a Peuhl shepherd, a pointed chin, a bushy mustache that would have made an old Latin prof eat his heart out with jealousy, gray hair combed back. ...

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pp. 48-69

Babyface today met; Akici was right. Me in Abidjan. Saw him in Abidjan. But he’ll come back. It’s a beautiful story I’m living, nurses said. But one I suspect. Vulgar, her eyes always made up, you’d think a toutou.1 Waiting for the tip of my baby’s nose to swipe him from me. Looking for me. Because he’ll come back. ...

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The Labors of Ariana

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pp. 70-81

End of the day. She’s about thirty years old and bends under the weight of two large baskets overflowing with plastic bags of all colors. The week’s groceries. She throws them carelessly across the room. Takes off her shoes with one hand, and with the other places two glasses in front of herself. ...

Part 4 - Politics

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pp. 83

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The Ballad of a Shipwreck

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pp. 85-92

That rooster. . . . If he could catch it, he would turn it into soup, eviscerate it, slit its throat . . . It seems that sleep is the poor man’s only good fortune. And now, thanks to that rooster . . . But there were also the ducks, the chickens, the geese, the . . .

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pp. 93-96

Water’s covering the whole shoreline, spreading on out beyond the dunes. There’s a dead dog floating. You can see a deep wound under its rough fur. It all stinks to high heaven. Tin roofs drift by, and huge palm fronds. ...

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Our Neighborhood Fool

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pp. 97-104

People are saying that Kamga the Fool is dead. The rumor is getting stronger and stronger, and all around me whispers are turning into loudly repeated statements of fact. They say that his body was found in a gutter, half eaten by maggots and rats, lying in his own shit—a pile of rotting meat. ...

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A Hunting Scene as Observed by a Sentimental Photographer

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pp. 105-109

A quick silhouette sprang up at the end of the street parallel to Malaria Street. The way he poked his head out trying to orient himself, you would have said he was an ant gone astray, separated from the colony, panicking with its antennae pointing, sending out a wary challenge to the gentle wind, hoping to catch a whiff of a familiar odor...

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Dead Girl Walking

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pp. 111-121

In Kigali they call the hundred thousands of genocide survivors Bafuye bahagaze, the walking dead, because they suffer from behavior problems. At first glance they seem completely normal—friendly and pleasant. They welcome you warmly, chat, get into answering questions, until some detail reveals the flaw. ...

Part 5 - Outside Africa

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pp. 123

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Bessombe: Between Homeland and Exile

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pp. 125-129

A sweet, deep sleep. I was in Douala. The rainy season had just begun. It was summer vacation. The boys were playing soccer on the corner. Tactical discussion was flying fast and furious: “Wèkè to Elamè hey pass me the ball you’re dribbling too long. ...

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The Milka Cow

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pp. 130-135

A Boeing 747 is resting in the courtyard of my hut. What a surprise I got as I was getting ready to go feed my goats. It must have fallen during the night, right in the middle of the sleeping hens. A silent crash, so as not to disturb my alarm clock roosters. ...

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Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 137-139

Several anthologies of African short fiction, although primarily devoted to work written in English, include stories translated from French. Charles Larson’s first, Opaque Shadows (Washington DC: Inscape, 1975), includes two Francophone stories, both by authors of an earlier generation...


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pp. 141-144


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pp. 145-147

Source Acknowledgments

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pp. 149-150

E-ISBN-13: 9780803203969
E-ISBN-10: 0803203969

Page Count: 150
Publication Year: 2004