cover image In the United States of Africa

In the United States of Africa

Abdourahman A. Waberi, , trans. from the French by David and Nicole Ball. . Univ. of Nebraska, $45 (123pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-2262-5

Djibouti-born Waberi’s brief and concentrated tale—part satire, part fable, part fever-dream—imagines the world turned upside down: a war rages between Quebec and the American Midwest, and all of “Euramerica” is a dark, barbaric hellhole. In the United States of Africa, however—land of Africola and Sarr Mbock coffeehouses—peace and prosperity reign, even if tinged with xenophobia (“White Trash, Back Home!” a headline blares). And it’s there that a dreamy, restless young artist named Maya ponders her history. Adopted as a child by a doctor on a humanitarian mission in Paris, Maya longs to find her birth mother, even as her beloved adoptive one lies dying. She travels to France, “a country moldering at the roots, smelling of urine and need,” to find out, and though there’s no bliss-filled reunion, Waberi manages to convince of the power of art and love to heal very real rifts. (Mar.)