In the United States of Africa

( 2 )

Overview


In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous United States of Africa. It is in this world that an African doctor on a humanitarian mission to France adopts a child. Now a young artist, ...
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Overview


In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous United States of Africa. It is in this world that an African doctor on a humanitarian mission to France adopts a child. Now a young artist, this girl, Malaïka, travels to the troubled land of her birth in hope of finding her mother—and perhaps something of her lost self. Her search, at times funny and strange, is also deeply poignant, reminding us at every moment of the turns of fate we call truth.
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Editorial Reviews

Maryse Conde
"Humor and derision are weapons not often used in African literature. Abdourahman Waberi proves to be a master of the art which adds a cutting edge to his magnificent narrative."

-Maryse Condé, author of The Story of the Cannibal Woman

La Nouvel Observateur

“It reads like a tale by Voltaire, but darker and more striking. . . . The polemicist’s weapons give way to the ironist’s verve and the sparkling grace of the futuristic tale.”—Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Devoir

“Along with the impertinent funny stuff that peppers the text, this book is above all a philosophical tale that gives a caustic critique of contemporary civilization through a distorting mirror.”—Le Devoir
Le Monde Diplomatique

“Waberi wittily destroys a whole series of clichés and prejudices about Africa—questionable views about immigration as well as the unhealthy side of humanitarian aid organizations draped in arrogance. . . . But this novel is also full of hope.”—Le Monde Diplomatique
Le Matricule des Anges

“Exhilarating and instructive. . . . This is a powerful, courageous, inventive novel.”—Le Matricule des Anges
Le Point

“[Waberi’s] hilarious parable makes Africa the main world power, suffering from a plague of immigration [from “Euramerica”] that makes it think of closing its borders. . . . The world upside down? Reality seen from the other side of the mirror sometimes gives us the shivers.”—Le Point
Review of Contemporary Fiction

rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=2081

— James Crossley

TheNational.ae

"The world Waberi creates in his new novel may be entirely driven by the question of "what if", but it has the natural and wonderful effect of making the reader re-examine what is. Waberi’s keen powers of empathy, his sharp wisdom and his beautiful prose make him one of the most exciting and original African writers working today."—Laila Lalami, TheNational.ae

— Laila Lalami

PopMatters.com - Ryan Michael Williams

"Writing in French, Waberi—born in Djibouti, but a longtime resident of France—satirizes commonly-held assumptions about the global political and economic order by imagining what things might be like if Africa were to swap places with the West. . . . In David and Nicole Ball's translation, Waberi's prose reads as both riotously funny and lyrically lush, offering big laughs as well as multifaceted subtleties of expression."—Ryan Michael Williams, PopMatters.com
Three Percent - Chad W. Post

"In the United States of Africa is not a simple book. It's not a fun-filled romp in an imagined world turned on its head. It is a very accomplished novel though, one that definitely deserves to be part of the "French Voices" series, and that the University of Nebraska should be admired for bringing out."—Chad W. Post, Three Percent
ForeWord Magazine - Barbara Ardinger

"In the United States of Africa, winner of the French Voices Award, is a splendid learning opportunity for readers in the US and Europe. . . . This winning, witty novel will help turn a flat globe, on which some people believe only the northern hemisphere is of any importance, into a round world where north and south are equally beautiful, heroic, and historic."—Barbara Ardinger, ForeWord Magazine
www.TheNational.ae - Laila Lalami

"The world Waberi creates in his new novel may be entirely driven by the question of "what if", but it has the natural and wonderful effect of making the reader re-examine what is. Waberi's keen powers of empathy, his sharp wisdom and his beautiful prose make him one of the most exciting and original African writers working today."—Laila Lalami, www.TheNational.ae
Tales of the Talisman - Jim Lee

"This brief, sternly loving book is by turns troubling, exhilarating, frustrating and oddly satisfying. Recommended to all those concerned with the world we live in—and ones we might otherwise live in, as well as people inhabiting both."—Jim Lee, Tales of the Talisman
institut francais
institut-francais.org.uk/talks/conference/paris-and-london-in-postcolonial-imagery.html
World Literature Today
worldliteratureforum.com/forum/blogosphere/16101-lalami-waberi.html
UNP blog - Cara Pesek
nebraskapress.typepad.com/university_of_nebraska_pr/2009/02/index.html
Review of Contemporary Fiction - James Crossley
rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=2081
Arab Times
arabtimesonline.com/client/pagesdetails.asp?nid=39053&ccid=13
Maryse Conde

“Humor and derision are weapons not often used in African literature. Abdourahman Waberi proves to be a master of the art which adds a cutting edge to his magnificent narrative.”—Maryse Condé, author of The Story of the Cannibal Woman
Publishers Weekly

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.)

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PopMatters.com

"Writing in French, Waberi—born in Djibouti, but a longtime resident of France—satirizes commonly-held assumptions about the global political and economic order by imagining what things might be like if Africa were to swap places with the West. . . . In David and Nicole Ball’s translation, Waberi’s prose reads as both riotously funny and lyrically lush, offering big laughs as well as multifaceted subtleties of expression."—Ryan Michael Williams, PopMatters.com

— Ryan Michael Williams

Three Percent

"In the United States of Africa is not a simple book. It’s not a fun-filled romp in an imagined world turned on its head. It is a very accomplished novel though, one that definitely deserves to be part of the "French Voices" series, and that the University of Nebraska should be admired for bringing out."—Chad W. Post, Three Percent

— Chad W. Post

ForeWord Magazine

"In the United States of Africa, winner of the French Voices Award, is a splendid learning opportunity for readers in the US and Europe. . . . This winning, witty novel will help turn a flat globe, on which some people believe only the northern hemisphere is of any importance, into a round world where north and south are equally beautiful, heroic, and historic."—Barbara Ardinger, ForeWord Magazine

— Barbara Ardinger

www.TheNational.ae
"The world Waberi creates in his new novel may be entirely driven by the question of "what if", but it has the natural and wonderful effect of making the reader re-examine what is. Waberi's keen powers of empathy, his sharp wisdom and his beautiful prose make him one of the most exciting and original African writers working today."

— Laila Lalami, www.TheNational.ae

Tales of the Talisman

"This brief, sternly loving book is by turns troubling, exhilarating, frustrating and oddly satisfying. Recommended to all those concerned with the world we live in—and ones we might otherwise live in, as well as people inhabiting both."—Jim Lee, Tales of the Talisman

— Jim Lee

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803222625
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2009
  • Series: French Voices
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 134
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Abdourahman A. Waberi was born in Djibouti in 1965 and has lived in France since 1985. He has published numerous books, articles, and stories. His first collection of short stories, Le Pays Sans Ombre (published in English as The Land without Shadows) won Belgium’s Royal Academy of French Language and Literature Grand Prix. J. M. G. Le Clézio recognized and paid tribute to Waberi in his 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature lecture.
 
David and Nicole Ball, both independent translators in Northampton, Massachusetts, have published several translations separately, as well as together, including Lascaux: A Work of Memory. David Ball won the Modern Language Association’s prize for literary translation in 1996.
 
Percival Everett, professor of creative writing at the University of California–Riverside, is the author of many novels, including, most recently, The Water Cure.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 29, 2011

    An African Perspective on the American Century

    This is an extraordinary, compact, and brilliant work of speculative fiction that starts with a simple trick of satire--inverting the status quo and seeing what happens--and builds on it to a complex critique of global politics.

    And it's funny, too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 4, 2011

    Dry academic style bore of a book

    A clever title is misplaced and wasted on this weak literary exercise. If the title attracts you to read it as an American, don't expect to be rewarded with anything profound or perspective-shifting. This has nothing to do with the U.S. or our racial culture. The author has a limited perspective attempting to sound global and multi-cultural.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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