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January 2005

Francophone Africa

Welcome to a new year of Words Without Borders, and to our first issue devoted to writing from Africa. As with India, there's so much strong writing in English (especially from Nigeria and South Africa) that we Anglophones usually neglect to look any further. We're not making any anti-colonial headway by turning to French--but we are discovering some great writers. Patrice Nganang from Cameroon, for instance, with his dog's-eye view of his master in "Barking." The great Algerian writer Mohammed Dib, with his hallucinatory vision of a girl's rebellion against a murderous emir, "Bloodred Dew." The brilliant Mohamed Magani, who recounts torture by coffee in "The Butcher's Aesthetics." Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou, who in "African Psycho" crafts a satirical noir thriller out of a psychopath's worship of a serial killer. And François Devenne, with a lyrical account of a young Muslim man departing on his Kenyan clan's traditional journey to Tanzania in the fabulistic "Three Dreams on Mount Meru."

from Three Dreams on Mount Meru
By François Devenne
Today, in the year 1170 of the Hegira, as I finish the narration of my journey to Mount Meru, I can’t help thinking about Omui. He was the best storyteller in all Mombasa. The fabulous stories he…
Translated from French by Lauren Yoder
The Dog with the Golden Heart
By Jutta Richter
1 “What are you doing over there?” asked the dog.“Collecting feathers,” said Lotta. She turned around. “And what are you doing?”The dog squinted in the sun. It was…
Translated from German by Chantal Wright
from African Psycho
By Alain Mabanckou
I have decided to kill Germaine on December 29.
Translated from French by Christine Schwartz Hartley
from Snow White and Russian Red
By Dorota Masłowska
Magda comes in, but without Eric. She looks like something’s happened, like she’s been shattered into little pieces, her hair this way, her handbag that way, her dress to the left, her earrings…
Translated from Polish by Benjamin Paloff
Polish Literature Embraces the Emptiness of It All, Still
Dorota Masłowska is coping with literary fame in an especially literary country. Her first novel, Snow White and Russian Red, was published in 2002 to immediate critical praise and commercial success.…
Translated from Polish