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January 2005

Francophone Africa

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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."

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