Calixthe Beyala: Performances of Migration

Calixthe Beyala: Performances of Migration

Calixthe Beyala: Performances of Migration

Calixthe Beyala: Performances of Migration

Synopsis

The most successful female writer from Francophone Africa, Calixthe Beyala occupies an unusual place in French literary and popular culture. Her novels are bestsellers and she appears regularly on French television, yet a conviction for plagiarism has tarnished her reputation. Thus, she is both an "African" author and a proven literary "fake." In Calixthe Beyala, Nicki Hitchcott considers representations of Beyala in the media, critical responses to her writing, and Beyala's efforts to position herself as a champion of women's rights. Hitchcott pays equal attention to Beyala's novels, tracing their explorations of the role of migration in the creation of personal identity

Excerpt

Calixthe Beyala a fait de l’écriture une profession à part entière.
[Calixthe Beyala has made writing a fully fledged profession.]

In 1994 Calixthe Beyala’s sixth novel, Assèze l’Africaine, appeared in bookshops with the red and white publicity wrapper connoting a best-selling or canonical author in France. Calixthe Beyala had become a name that sells. in 2005 her most recent novel, La Plantation went straight into the bestseller lists, ranked seventeenth by L’Express/RTL in its first month of publication. Beyala is one of the few francophone African authors to make her living from writing fiction, receiving advances from her publisher, Albin Michel, of more than £100,000 per novel. the author of thirteen novels and two essays to date, Beyala is undoubtedly the most famous woman writer from francophone sub-Saharan Africa. Born in 1960 in Douala, Cameroon, she migrated to Europe in her twenties and has been living in Paris for many years. Her work has been awarded numerous literary prizes, including the prestigious Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie Française in 1996. However, Beyala’s image as a writer has been tarnished by two high-profile allegations of plagiarism, one of which led to her conviction in 1996 in the High Court in Paris. Often appearing in the media, Beyala also has the reputation of being something of a loudmouth; she has been ‘critiquée pour ses interventions médiatiques tonitruantes et ses coups de gueule réguliers’ [criticized for her thundering media interventions and her regular rantings]. Beyala is, then, an extremely controversial figure in France and in Africa. On the one hand, she is something of a postcolonial celebrity: a prolific and successful author who is regularly invited to contribute to television talk shows. On the other, she is reviled as a literary fraud who lacks a sense of propriety.

Yet despite (or indeed because of) the controversy surrounding her, Beyala continues to publish and be widely read not only in . . .

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