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Library Recommendations: Francophone African Literature

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The Brown Médiathèque at the Alliance has a great selection of Francophone novels from Africa. Culturethèque, the online French library, also offers Francophone African literature. Alliance members have FREE access to Culturethèque! Register here. You can browse the online selections for ‘Littérature Afrique du Nord’ here and ‘Littérature Afrique Noire’ here.

Check out this list of 5 must-reads from talented African authors! All of these books are available at our library or on Culturethèque.

verrecasse1. Verre cassé by Alain Mabanckou
*Selection for Café Littérature
*More books by Mabanckou on Culturethèque here

Review:
“A man known as Broken Glass (Verre Cassé) is a regular in Credit Gone West, a run-down bar in the Congo; the bar’s owner, aka the Stubborn Snail, selects him to record the stories of the bar’s other sodden, down-and-out habitués. That slight premise is all Mabanckou needs to spin a raucous tale of the regulars, the bar, corrupt and inept government, and life in Trois-Cents, an impoverished district of an unnamed city…it is the author’s sense of humor—and he can find humor in even the most tragic or vulgar circumstances—that makes Broken Glass a memorable and successful novel.” –Booklist

About the author:
Alain Mabanckou was born in Congo-Brazzaville in 1966. He is a Francophone Congolese poet and novelist whose absurd sense of humor resulted in his being known in France as “the African Samuel Beckett.” Learn more here.

femmesdalger2. Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement by Assia Djebar

Review:
“Algerian-born writer and filmmaker Djebar… makes her American debut with a collection offering memorable portraits of Arabic women in a time of change. Spanning the years 1958 to 1979, a period when Algeria fought a bitter war of independence from France and experienced a socialist revolution, Djebar’s stories are intended to be ‘the voice of all the women they’ve kept walled in’ in Islamic society…. As much a critique as a picture of [this] society, Djebar’s debut―plus its informative afterword―is an elegant and evocative introduction to a too little-known world.” –Kirkus Reviews

About the author:
Assia Djebar (1936-2015) was born in Cherchell, French Algeria. Her novel Fantasia, an Algerian Cavalcade won the Franco-Arab Friendship Prize and she has written and directed two feature-length films. Learn more here.

 

 

3. L’enfant de sable by Tahar Ben Jellounlenfantdesable
*More books by Ben Jelloun on Culturethèque here

Review:
“Seemingly cursed to father only daughters in a society that devalues females, an Arab conceals the birth of an eighth girl by proclaiming the child, Ahmed, a son and heir. The tale that follows is a cynical, dreamlike exploration of the roles into which Arab men and women are shaped: shackles to some, yet a clear identity and a well-defined bridge connecting the individual to society.” –Publisher’s Weekly

About the author:
Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in Fez, Morocco, in 1944 and has lived in France since 1971. He is an internationally recognized novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist, and has received numerous awards for his works. Learn more here.

 

4. Meursault, contre-enquête by Kamel Daoudmedium
*Available on Culturethèque here

Review:
“A thrilling retelling of Albert Camus’s 1942 classic, The Stranger, from the perspective of the brother of the Arab killed by Meursault, Camus’s antihero. The novel…not only breathes new life into The Stranger; it also offers a bracing critique of postcolonial Algeria… The premise is ingenious: that The Stranger, about the murder of an unnamed Arab on an Algiers beach, was a true story…Meursault is less a critique of The Stranger than its postcolonial sequel.” –The New York Times Magazine

About the author:
Kamel Daoud is an Algerian journalist based in Oran. A finalist for the Prix Goncourt, Meursault, contre-enquête won the Prix François Mauriac and the Prix des Cinq-Continents de la francophonie. Learn more here.

 

 

5. Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouetaya

Review:
“Studious Aya and her flighty party-girl friends, Adjoua and Bintou, live in suburban Ivory Coast in 1978. Aya hopes to continue her studies and become a doctor, while her father, a manager at a local brewery, would rather see her marry well…This realistic story immerses readers in the life of an Ivorian teen of the period. Yet for those familiar with the civil unrest occurring in this part of Africa during the ensuing years, the simplicity of life depicted can’t help but be extra poignant…This pleasing volume will make a good addition to graphic-novel collections.” –School Library Journal

About the author:
Marguerite Abouet was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 1971 and now lives outside of Paris. Her graphic novel series taps into Abouet’s childhood memories of Ivory Coast in the 1970s. More than 300,000 copies of Aya have been sold and it has been translated into 12 languages, including English. Learn more here.