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Articles tagged "Francophone Literature"

The Avenging Whip

The weather’s so hot at the moment that I can’t be assed to do anything. I spend all day vegging out in front of the TV, watching shows aimed at the unemployed, even though I have a real job. And when I’m not staring at the box and doing my eyes in . . . well, I sleep, I eat. I sleep some more and I eat some more. In other words, I do fuck all. When I opened the mailbox this morning, I realized that I was making a serious mistake. The bills for the things that rule our...

Insularity, Mobility, and Imagination: Writing from the Indian Ocean

In early March 2011, two news items about Mauritius landed in my inbox almost simultaneously: one, a glowing article in the U. S. news magazine Slate, titled “The Greatest Country on Earth,” and the other, a denunciation of greed and environmental damage on the coast of the island, published in the Mauritian daily L’Express. In the first article, Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate in economics and professor at Columbia University in New York, rightfully sings the...

Center of Flacq

At the first rays of dawn, when the dogs abandon their posts and the vagrants their cardboard boxes, the most pointless of prayers ascends into the sky. A plea. God, grant us this day our daily bread . . . The wind from the east muffles the prayer, the voice weakens, but at that very instant you think it will vanish into thin air, it intensifies, proliferates, spreads out over the tarnished roofs of the municipal buildings, onto the sticky benches of a classroom. In plain sight the...

The Iron Caterpillar

Strange phenomena can strike such dread into human hearts that I ask you to believe in the one that knotted the stomach of the young diver named Paolo, who noticed the haze of the tunnel when he was returning from a day of fishing . . . Shortly after stowing his fishing gear, mask, snorkel, and flippers in a big, army-green sports bag, and proudly hooking the day’s catch of black jacks and red snappers onto the steel tip of his harpoon—which he immediately placed on his...

Traces of Our Fathers

Writer, journalist, and filmmaker Alain Gordon Gentil has recently finished shooting four documentaries that retrace the great Indian, African, French, and Chinese adventure of immigration to the Mauritian land.  The series is titled “Venus d’ailleurs” [“They Came from Elsewhere”].   Memories from the set. I have never celebrated the past, but my childhood has had a way of hanging on. And when it has you in its grip, it conjures images that...

The Sea Horses’ Ball

Below the Mipham plane the Himalayan sky. The wind florifies the snow. Fa-fa-mi . . . mi-fa-fa   . . . Shadows gain in luxuriance, tufts of omphalodes and orthosiphon. Don’t stay grounded. Don’t stay attached to anything. My word as a stewardess! In order to thank the Black Virgin and brush her by a breath in her orchard of light, the plane loses some altitude. And to allow the amphibians of outerlava to turn their faces toward the wheel of Virgil. Rain or shine,...

Moorings: Indo-oceanic Creolizations

Moorings (amarres in French), in Reunion Island Creole a profoundly polysemous term, also means   link, ties, enchanted, bewitched, to be in love, to be enraptured, to be bonded, to care (amar lë ker) whatever excites the senses (i amar la boush) [. . .]   Natives of an island that is often forgotten on maps of the world, often confused with other French overseas territories, we seek to affirm a problematic based on this very forgetfulness, on this...

Famine

Frogs invariably proliferate in a flood. My countries, crass latitudes and borders of hell, often encounter these blessed times. Winds and rains. Frogs. Toads. Pelobates and other pelodytes. Inflated rice paddies and the unmistakable stench of excavated death. Excavated lifted battered returned. The plague prowls and help is standing by to fill a few wallets. The world’s tears make good neighbors. Definite solidarity, international s’il-vous-plaît, on the silt of...

Kratos

From my face made puffy by the swelling of centuries my shithead laughter, I gaze at you from my manure where negro death unfolds in mass, crater bodies in rotten piles, pink abscess on vagina in bloom, smooth penis, stuck inert in the still pulsating throat of the latest cut-carved On my pile, Let there now be modernity, Let there now be prosperity, Let there now be liberty, I perish humus by my flesh You may now develop, emerge, grow, increase, consume, see, you are progressing,...

Abdellah Taia’s “An Arab Melancholia”

Abdellah Taïa is Morocco’s highest profile gay writer, a point underscored in the accompanying blurb to his recently translated An Arab Melancholia. Since the book is billed as an autobiographical novel, one might expect—wrongly, it turns out—a gut-wrenching exposition of the existential dilemma of growing up gay in Morocco. Taïa came into his own awareness in Islamic Morocco, where being openly gay is taboo, which of course complicates an already complex and...

Dead

the mother looked like the linden tree in the square like the wood of the table on which she wrote our faces like the log that didn’t sweat or complain about the smoke dead she began to avoid us turned her back to the mirror to the moon to the skylight less dead she would say that the moon was a loaf of bread baked between two stones   A moon doesn’t fill a bread-box doesn’t plug up the cracks in the sink doesn’t sweep the crumbs of...

As night became talkative

we were lent a window on a fragment of the world We we re the house and the road that led to the house The mother moved the door each time a train went by and at each procession toward     the cemetery The earth remained the same despite the dead buried in it They were wept for in unison but laughter was separate The mother sprinkled the doorstep with soot though she no longer had a cauldron  Her kitchen utensils fled after the last guest deserted her...

Her apron drawn on her skin

the mother sent us out in the street naked Walnut husks served us for ink Fences we’d jumped were the pages we leafed through Euphoria in the evening when she multiplied her arms two to embrace us two to push us away and make sure we had the same number of smiles and tears How to tell her with no punctuation about the transparent toes of the children whose     paths we crossed the women all red on the inside the dogs blue at the corners of their...

When did their language mingle with ours

so my brother spoke the words of the arbutus so the mother thickened her sauces with the ash tree’s black resin   The female branches made off with the laundry on our lines the young shoots leapt into our nights cracked our pavement The “wanted” poster distributed via winds and tides led to a blackbird It was he who’d set fire to the forest with a match He who’d sung Hallelujah mockingly at the old oak tree’s burial Our careful openings had...

God, the mother claimed, is behind every tree in the forest

his right shoulder lower than his left heavy with rocky snowfalls from such endurance It’s his motionless breath that fissures our walls in the night when one winter hands    power over to another The deaf bluetit’s wing-beats count for nothing nor the mother’s invectives guilty of having grouted the tiles with her tears   Yet the storm announced festive disorder erosion polished up by subtle winds Everything smiled at us and the mother who wore...

It was a November of bitter rain and snow blackened by use

we filed the dead leaves by size to ease the task of the forest that was absent for      reasons known only to itself The parents had left with the door We mistook puddles for creeks pebbles for meteorites the wind’s hordes for wolves A child would liquefy as soon as a snowflake touched the ground We could hold out till Epiphany handling our feet like toys waiting for a redistribution of parents   © Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the...

How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills

How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills leaving us a body without contours two packets of cold for the armpits white grass for the pubis   Gone off with her friend the fire she spoke to us in flares and sparks from behind the hill’s shoulder her voice become brambles loose stones broom bush if a storm broke she collapsed in soot   whole nights spent down on the floor sniffing a sketch of her looking out for her rages in...

The Ark

I shall destroy man whom I have created from off the face of Belgium: both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. Make thee an ark of resinous wood, just like that of Noah, and shalt thou pitch it within and without with pitch. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to...

The World is Moving Around Me

My Nephew I stepped out into the yard with my nephew. The little shacks on the other side of the ravine stood up to the earthquake. The old wall collapsed. We sit on the hood of the car. “I’m going to write something,” I say. “OK . . .” “I’m going to write about this.” I still can’t give it a name. “I understand,” he says in a serious voice. It’s like he’s matured overnight. “What are you...

from “La Belle Amour Humaine”

There are seven hours of road between the noise and the silence. Between here in the capital and Anse-à-Fôleur. I suppose it's the same where you come from, one town after another and all different. There are towns that yammer and others that whisper. There are towns that smile and others that sulk. Ones that daub themselves with every color of the rainbow the way a girl condemned to walk the streets disguises herself every evening to go into battle. And other towns that...

November 2011

from Three Dreams on Mount Meru

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 would tell every Friday in the square in front of the grand mosque always enchanted me. I keep the memory of that man alive within me. I like to think that I'm made of the same stuff and that like him, I too belong to the race of enchanters. Of course, I'm guilty of pride to think...

from African Psycho

I I have decided to kill Germaine on December 29. I have been thinking about this for weeks—whatever one may say about it, killing someone requires both psychological and logistical preparation. I believe I have now reached the necessary state of mind, even if I have yet to choose the means with which I will do the deed. It is now a question of detail. I'd rather give myself a bit of latitude on this practical point, and in so doing add a measure of improvisation to my...

from The Butcher’s Aesthetics

The two friends' meetings resembled a ritual that went back to the years of holy struggle when they would drink more cups of coffee than they could count to give them energy, a small vice Laid Touhami had picked up in the mountains and the mayor at a young age, since his father considered coffee an aphrodisiac and permanently wore a necklace of coffee beans round his neck. In fact, coffee had been behind Zineddine Ayachi's flight into the Ouarsenis and his joining the ranks of...

Bloodred Dew

The two men were alone now. Or was it two women? The night stretched on endlessly. So did the mountain. And the frosted sky lying lightly over the mountain began to pale. The mountain stood facing them, bristling with rocky spurs, with clusters of thorn bushes: snow-dusted specters, already white-congealed. The men (the women?) were two lone figures. The silhouettes that had been climbing for quite some time now might well have been taken for two phantoms. Just the two men, alone, cut...

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