The favorite novels of “World Africa”

Have a cup of tea, sit down and listen

The favorite novels of “World Africa”

Have a cup of tea, sit down and listen. “What do you want me to tell you, sisters, I didn’t know what to do. I was there, in the middle of an unknown place, the people I had met did not understand me and I had not anticipated that the door indicated on the paper would not be opened to us. »

Returning from a long trip abroad, Fatima tells her sisters about the experience she had. Originally, she lived happily with her family, in the small village in the Moroccan Rif where she grew up, learned the gestures of daily life and was married. But this emotional cocoon is destroyed the day Fatima's husband, poor and without prospects, decides to try his luck elsewhere in the world.

He leaves for the first time, for a long time, then returns, time to remember his family and conceive a child. Then he leaves again and stays far away, this time without ever being heard from again. Tired of waiting for him, Fatima decides to go looking for him, with the only clue being the name of a town and a vague address. With courage, she takes the road then the sea blindly, her child under her arm, in search of answers to this family negligence.

The Spanish-Moroccan writer Nadia El Hachmi has no equal when it comes to telling what becomes of a life begun in happiness and which thus turns into a migratory adventure. A contemporary feminine odyssey, Mother of Milk and Honey, her magnificent novel, reminds us in passing that a thousand reasons can push people to emigrate: Fatima is undoubtedly voluntary, curious and stubborn, but initially it is love, more than any other motivation, which makes it move forward.

Lie down on Dr. Kaya’s couch and close your eyes. Under your closed eyelids the characters from the novel by Congolese author Dibakana Mankessi, The Psychoanalyst of Brazzaville, will appear. “For over a year I have been dreaming of a door, a wide door with a mass of two-headed vipers between the door and me. When I turn around, I am at the foot of a wall guarded by enormous two-headed dogs. To my left and to my right, a large empty space, completely empty, nothing on the horizon. Nothingness. »

Footballer, soldier, man of the church, minister, lawyer, European expatriate, wife prey to a spell... They all confide in the town's only therapist, allowing readers to build, through the interviews, a psycho-sociological map of the Congo. Added to these patients is Massolo, Doctor Kaya's housekeeper, a young woman trained in law at university, but who conceals her knowledge.

Finally, the psychoanalyst himself, careful to record his thoughts daily, also comes under the radar of intimacy. As the characters in the book unfold, the complex and ups and downs history of the Congo appears, from the 1960s and the accession to independence to the present day. This double temporality of the present of the characters confronted with the time of history is what makes this original and highly successful novel.

Take the road and move forward without looking back. Because with Madre Piccola, you will follow in the footsteps of several characters and be taken in multiple temporal and geographical directions, from Somalia to Italy and across the world. “Do you know what all these years have been like? What I can't do is describe to you the places where I lived. We were constantly moving from one house to another. We could be anywhere. For me, for all of us, it didn't matter. You just had to get used to new brands, to a different currency to reconstruct a map: that of relationships with others and places to meet up (…).”

So says Ahado-Domenica. We will also come across Barni, Taguere, so many different voices to tell of lives turned upside down by the war and the political destabilization of Somalia since the 1990s. The thousands of dispersed beings nevertheless find themselves in an intimate community, a network made of sharing and solidarity, because there are serious experiences that we can only overcome together. Carried by the sensitive and vibrant writing of the Italian-Somali writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Madre Piccola interweaves human destinies to form a large mixed-race fresco from which we emerge dazed and transformed.

Don't move, feel, take root, like Tambudzai, the protagonist of This Body to Cry. You will then feel the world spinning around you and unfortunately without you. Tambudzai is unemployed, looking for a teaching job, unable to work in the world of advertising as she would like. Born in the countryside, trained in the capital of her country, Harare, the young woman can only count on herself and feels the downgrading taking hold of her day after day, in Robert Mugabe's declining Zimbabwe. Without pity for herself, she admonishes herself, reproaching herself for not having achieved the objectives she had set for herself, as well as for not understanding the society where she lives, still marked by apartheid, despite 'independence.

“When and how did everything change? While you were one of the best students, even if you had to run miles to get to school and study by candlelight. (…) Exhaustion pushes you from the edge of wakefulness to a sleep from which you vaguely hope to never wake up. »

Turning the knife of her pain against herself, Tambudzai ends up inventing a depressing job: selling foreign tourists a falsely traditional “village tour”… A way of cutting herself off even more from herself and definitely from her own people. Filmmaker and writer, Booker Prize finalist, Tsitsi Dangarembga depicts the rout of a woman as much as of a society. On edge.