I Was an Elephant Salesman: Adventures between Dakar, Paris, and Milan

I Was an Elephant Salesman: Adventures between Dakar, Paris, and Milan

by Pap Khouma
     
 

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A landmark bestseller in Italy, I Was an Elephant Salesman gives a name and a face to the thousands of anonymous African street vendors in cities across Europe. Through the voice of a thinly veiled first-person narrator, Pap Khouma offers us a chilling, intimate, and often ironic glimpse into the life of an illegal immigrant. Khouma invents a life for himself as an

Overview

A landmark bestseller in Italy, I Was an Elephant Salesman gives a name and a face to the thousands of anonymous African street vendors in cities across Europe. Through the voice of a thinly veiled first-person narrator, Pap Khouma offers us a chilling, intimate, and often ironic glimpse into the life of an illegal immigrant. Khouma invents a life for himself as an itinerant trader of carved elephants, small ivories, and other "African" trinkets, struggling to maintain courage and dignity in the face of despair and humiliation. Constantly on the run from the authorities, he finds insight into the vicissitudes of law and politics, the constraints of citizenship, national borders, skin color, and the often paralyzing difficulties of obtaining basic human needs. His story reveals a contemporary Europe struggling to come to terms with its multiracial, multireligious, and multicultural identity.

Editorial Reviews

ForeWord Reviews

"This autobiographical novel is a treasure, a narrative of courage, optimism, and resilience.... Khouma gives his audience much food for thought." —ForeWord Reviews

World Literature in Review

"[T]he sly humor of its first-person narrator...gives this cultural critique the fast-paced charm of a road novel." —World Literature in Review, March-April 2011

Alessandra Di Maio

"One of the first and most influential autobiographical [immigrant] narratives published in Europe." —Alessandra Di Maio, University of California, Los Angeles

Jeanne Garane

"Rais[es] questions about youth culture, identity, and migrancy." —Jeanne Garane, University of South Carolina

From the Publisher

"One of the first and most influential autobiographical [immigrant] narratives published in Europe." —Alessandra Di Maio, University of California, Los Angeles

"[T]he sly humor of its first-person narrator...gives this cultural critique the fast-paced charm of a road novel." —World Literature in Review, March-April 2011

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253222329
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
09/21/2010
Series:
Global African Voices Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
158
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.38(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Pap Khouma is author of Nonno Dio e gli spiriti danzanti [Grandfather god and the dancing spirits] and founding editor of El Ghibli, an online journal of migrant literature.

Rebecca Hopkins teaches English and writing at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy.

Graziella Parati is Professor of Italian at Dartmouth College. She is author of Migration Italy.

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