The West African writer, painter, playwright, and director Werewere
Liking is considered one of the best literary interpreters of the
postcolonial condition in Africa. Her first work to be translated
into English, these two novels spare nothing in their satirical
portraits of the patriarchal view of African society as they
experiment radically with the novel form.
At once dramatic, lyrical, satirical, and epistolary, "It Shall Be
of Jasper and Coral (Journal of a Misovire)," subtitled "A
Song-Novel," introduces the "misovire" literally defined as a
man-hater but seen by Liking as the figure of a time when gender
differentiation will be irrelevant to discovering the fullness of
what it means to be human. The misovire recounts the story of the
inhabitants of Lunai, a squalid fictional village in Africa. The
novel's action occurs on two levels, as the misovire contemplates
writing a journal, and through that heralds the creation of a new
Instead of holding the daily entries of a conventional diary, this
journal is to be composed of nine "pages," each dedicated to a
specific theme, from creativity and art criticism to friendship and
the importance of raising children to be balanced human beings. The
misovire's musings, interspersed with the dialogue of two comical
characters named Babou and Grozi, bring together a powerful
polyphony of modern Africa. While bitterly critical, it ends on a
hopeful note, as the misovire prophesies the birth from the sea of
a new African who "shall be made of jasper and coral."
In "Love-across-a-Hundred-Lives," the narrator tells the story of
Lem, her brother, who is preparing to hang himself when his
grandmother Madjo appears. He secretly expects her to dissuade him
from suicide, but instead she encourages him, urging him to make
his final action a success that will make up for all his earlier
failures. As he continues to knot the rope that will be his noose,
Madjo tells Lem stories of their ancestors, of legendary and
historical African figures; interwoven are the voices of Lem
himself, of the narrator, and of her sister Go. When Lem is finally
ready to conclude his act, he no longer wants to die. Madjo has
accomplished her mission to make Lem a man in the most complete and
most noble sense of the word, whole and strong enough not only to
survive but to give of himself to others.
In addition to illustrating the formal innovations for which Liking
is increasingly known and celebrated in Africa and the francophone
world, these two novels establish a discourse with icons of African
literature such as Leopold Sedar Senghor and Cheikh H. Kane,
debunking many myths about the continent that produced them. With
Liking's refreshingly iconoclastic writing driving their message,
"It Shall Be of Jasper and Coral" and "Love-across-a-Hundred-Lives"
introduces a fascinating African literary voice to the
University of Virginia Press
|Country of origin:
||CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French
Irene Assiba D'Almeida
Marjolijn de Jager
||216 x 139 x 25mm (L x W x T)
General & literary fiction >
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