From Africa: New Francophone Stories

From Africa: New Francophone Stories

From Africa: New Francophone Stories

From Africa: New Francophone Stories

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Adele King

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. They frequently teach a moral lesson and usually involve an element of the supernatural. They normally are precolonial in theme, describing life in traditional society before the coming of outside influences. Among the predecessors of contemporary short-story writers is Birago Diop, whose Tales of Amadou Koumba, while often literary transcriptions of folktales, can be seen as within the tradition of the short story broadly defined.

Whereas early African short stories were often influenced by the oral tale, modern stories are usually realistic, although occasionally the supernatural, or at least characters who believe in the supernatural, can be found. Political or social themes dominate; short stories are about contemporary society. At first authors often wrote for a metropolitan audience and explained to these readers the customs of African societies. Later stories contained criticism, sometimes of traditional Africa, increasingly of colonialism. After independence, writers wrote about their disillusion as independence failed to bring . . .

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