Recently in African novels and stories Category

Henrietta Hammond-Boadu reviews a new book from Ghana

Nana Awere Damoah's Tales from Different Tails is an easy read. The stories bring back memories of life on campus and gives an interesting look into some things we go through in life as a whole; from feeling overwhelmed on your first day on campus through, as a female, feeling like fresh meat left out with flies all over you to handling heart matters on and off campus, to dealing with the everyday life of taking troski. Oh, and then there are the nicknames that take over one's life leaving only family members knowing the documented name. Tales from Different Tails sometimes made me laugh out and other stories in the book left me thinking. Nana Awere Damoah uses words that make it easy for people from all age groups to read and understand, and injects humor which makes you want to keep reading. I really enjoyed this

Krystle's Book Review: So Long a Letter

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So Long A Letter.jpgMariama Bâ wrote So Long a Letter in 1981. That same year, she won an award from the book. Bâ was raised a Muslim by her grandparents in Senegal. Her struggle against her traditional upbringing is reflected in her novel. So Long a Letter is written in the form of a series of letters by Ramatoulaye, to her friend, Aissatou. Ramatoulaye recounts the life experiences of both her and her friend, and compares their reactions to similar situations. Both women are Muslim, as are the men they married. According to Muslim tradition, a man can marry up to four women if he so chooses.  Aissatou's husband takes another wife, and she decides to leave him because she does not agree with polygamy. After more than twenty years of marriage, Ramatoulaye's husband too takes another wife - the friend of their teenage daughter. Ramatoulaye is appalled, especially since her husband promised that she would always be his only wife. He abandons his first family to shower his pretty second wife and her mother with luxury. In her letters, Ramatoulaye struggles with whether she should have followed the path of her friend and left her husband. But she stayed for her faith. When her husband dies, both she and the young girl are treated equally in their status as grieving widows - even though the older women has been his wife for thirty years and the younger, only five. In an effort to prevent her daughter from facing the same struggles, she allows her to wear more Western clothing. She finds solace in reading, going to the cinema, writing and spending time with her friends.  Ramatoulaye, like Bâ herself, believes that it is through books that one (women especially) can find hope, and eventually the weapons, to fight oppression. Bâ said: "The power of books, this marvelous invention of astute human intelligent. Various signs associated with sound: different sounds that form the word. Juxtaposition of words from which springs the idea, Thought, History, Science, Life. Sole instrument of interrelationship and of culture, unparalleled means of giving and receiving. Books knit generations together in the same continuing effort that leads to progress. They enabled you to better yourself. What society refused you, they granted..."
You can read the full article here:

« Je ne suis un écrivain qu'à titre accessoire », aime à rappeler le Sénégalais Cheikh Hamidou Kane, auteur de deux romans. Agronome et homme politique de premier plan dans son pays, l'homme a consacré peu de temps à l'écriture. Grâce au succès phénoménal de son premier roman, il s'est rapidement imposé comme une des figures incontournables des Lettres africaines. L'Aventure ambiguë, qui raconte le drame du métissage et de la double culture, est un récit emblématique de l'expérience coloniale en Afrique. Il a marqué l'esprit de générations d'Africains qui se reconnaissent dans le parcours de son héros, Samba Diallo - des berges de la Vallée du fleuve Sénégal aux bancs de l'école française. Les cinquante ans de sa parution ont été célébrés au siège de l'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie à Paris. Dans l'interview qu'il nous a accordée, Kane parle de la portée universelle de son roman, des heurs et malheurs de l'intellectuel colonisé, de la responsabilité des élites dans la faillite du développement africain, de la « dépossession » identitaire... Et des Gardiens du temple, son deuxième livre, paru en 1995, qui poursuit la quête de ses personnages mais dans des circonstances postcoloniales.

Krystle's Book Review: "L'homme à la Bagnole Rouge"

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I don't get the chance to read in French as much as I'd like, mostly because books are expensive in Burkina. However, while I was at reading camp, I decided to take advantage of all the books surrounding me and read a few of them. I found such treasures as translations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (a personal favorite), Nancy Drew by Caroline Keene (who is known as Alice Roy in the French version) and Le Robot Qui Vivait Sa Vie (The Robot who Lived His Life) by Phillippe Ébly. I also read a book by a Burkinabè author, Susy Nikiéma, entitled L'homme à la Bagnole Rouge (The Man with the Red Car).


The book was published when Ms. Nikiéma was only 18 years old. It is the story of a high-school aged girl who lives with her grandparents, as her mother passed away and her father abandoned her when she was young. She begins spending a lot of time with an older man who drives a red car and is fairly well-off. At first she is suspicious of his intentions, but soon she learns that he truly only seeks her friendship. Eventually, he asks if he can adopt her because he has terminal cancer and he wants to share all he has with her. She struggles with the decision because she does not want to desert her grandparents. As she is about to make her decision, however, the man mysteriously dies. The girl receives a letter a few days later that the man sent before his death. In the letter, he explains that he is her biological father, and he abandoned her all those years before to live a better life in Côte d'Ivoire. He had returned to spend time with his daughter before his death. Eventually, we learn that the man was poisoned for his money, all of which he had already willed to his daughter. After proving her heritage, the girl is able to get the money left to her. L'homme à la Bagnole Rouge is an interesting read, not least because it discusses a lot of important realities of being a female high school student in Burkina. It is dramatic and suspenseful, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to read French and learn a little bit more about life here.

Author NABIE Wabinle visits FAVL

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Elisée writes:

wabinle_nabie.jpgYesterday FAVL received a visit from NABIE Wabinlé, a Burkinabe author from the TUY Province. He came to present his book of fables, "La Gazelle et le Caméléon: conte bwaba du Burkina Faso." I met NABIE Wabinlé for the first time at a recent meeting held by the new Minister of Culture. His book is compiled of 11 fables, which uses animals to describe different human behaviors. This book, edited by Harmattan, is an excellent choice for the village libraries.

New book by Kwei Quartey: Children of the Street

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Former FAVL volunteer Lauren Bizzari writes in:

FC9780812981674.JPGI loved Wife of the Gods so much I couldn't help but pre-order 4 copies of Kwei Quartey's new installment a month ago. It just came out in late July, don't know if you've had a chance to read it yet, but it's quick and I think you'd find it interesting. I didn't enjoy the plot quite as much this time (a little more predictable I thought), and I was kind of sad that the book was so "American" in style again. But, the story line touches on the poverty in Northern Ghana. Specifically, the huge numbers of street children/teens in Accra who left the North seeking a "better life" in the city. I'm shipping these copies to Sumbrungu, and if the librarians/Lucas get a chance to read them I think they will enjoy it and have a lot to say.

Em's Book Review: "Chanda's Secrets"

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ChandaSecrets.jpg"Chanda's Secrets" is a heartfelt young adult novel by Canadian Allan Stratton. The book focuses on all aspects of HIV/AIDS but more importantly on the stigma surrounding the virus. It's the story of Chanda, a young woman who witnesses friends and members of her family die off one by one from AIDS, though no one in her village wants to acknowledge it. When her own mother gets sick, Chanda is forced to make some very adult and very difficult decisions. "Mama said I should save my anger to fight in justice. Well, I know what's unjust. The ignorance about AIDS. The shame. The stigma. The silence." Based in an unnamed Sub-Saharan African country, this is one of those universal books that any young adult, whether living in a rural African village or in a bustling American city, would appreciate and be affected by.

Heremakhonon by Maryse Condé

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While in Puerto Rico I picked up a book my brother must have read when he spent a year abroad in Senegal: Heremakhonon by Maryse Condé.  Unfortunately a translation into English (apparently she went on to marry Richard Philcox, the translator- wow!), but the experimental fiction, with shifts from description to interior monologue, and lots left unsaid, is really interesting.  She does seem very naive though. It's a "disappointed by complex inscrutable Africa and I still don't know who I am" story, in some ways very similar to Claire Denis' film Chocolat.  Worth reading if you are interested in African literature. There is a more literary review by Nandini Dhar here.
I'm looking forward to reading it.

Le paysage littéraire burkinabè vient de s'enrichir avec la parution de la nouvelle œuvre de Lazare Tiga Sankara. « Le retour des morts » est un recueil de trois nouvelles publié aux éditions Céprodif. Après la parution de son roman « l'aventures de Patindé » aux éditions l'harmattan, Lazare Tiga Sankara revient sur la scène littéraire avec un recueil de trois nouvelles intitulé « le retour des morts ». A travers cette œuvre, l'auteur fait voyager les lecteurs dans l'univers presque indescriptibles des morts. « Le retour des morts » est elle une réplique à Birango Diop pour qui « les morts ne sont pas morts » ? Négatif.


Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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