The Tears of the Black Man

Alain Mabanckou, trans. from the French by Dominic Thomas. Indiana Univ, $16 trade paper (86p) ISBN 978-0-253-03583-7
In this slender but intellectually dense collection of 12 essays, Franco-Congolese novelist Mabanckou (Black Moses) reveals and reshapes notions of black identity, arguing that in today’s global community, “identity goes far beyond notions of territory or blood.” In “The Identity Card,” which echoes the title of a novel by Ivory Coast poet Jean-Marc Adiaffi, Mabanckou explores the role of place and displacement in the creative process: “Only when the place in which you find yourself is so completely different to your ‘natural milieu’ will childhood memories come surging to the surface,” he observes. In “Bound to Violence,” Mabanckou revisits the controversies spurred by Yambo Ouloguem’s 1968 novel Le devoir de violence, which addressed the enslavement of Africans by Arabs and “African notables” before the arrival of the Europeans. Aspects of memoir figure into the essays here and there, such as in “A Negro in Paris,” which recounts a conversation with a black fitness instructor in Paris about black people in America. Mabanckou’s challenging perspective on African identity today is as enlightening as it is provocative. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Ebook - 978-0-253-03584-4
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