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Your Madness Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon…

Your Madness Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon (Ohio RIS Africa Series)

by Makuchi

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191537,190 (4.5)9
  1. 00
    The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (charl08)
    charl08: Both books are short story collections that include links between the west and West Africa, with strong characterisation and a sense of humour.

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I'm not a big reader of short stories, although memorable collections I've enjoyed include books by Lorrie Moore and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and most recently by Margaret Atwood. That said, I really enjoyed this collection of stories set in the English-speaking part of Cameroon. The introduction provides context for the stories, explaining that Cameroon is the only African country to have two European languages as lingua franca, but because of the French postcolonial role, French takes a predominant role despite an official policy of equality between the two languages. So this is one of the topics of the stories - relationships between people who see speaking English or French as a marker of community identity, in the context of limited resources. So in one story, in the midst of a car accident, everyone is arguing in a mix of English, pidgin and French, and Their arguments betrayed linguistic cultural and political assumptions whose validity they no longer particularly cherished...

Although there are stories set in a rural village as well as in the city, both contexts are dealing with change. Juliana Makuchi's stories address AIDS, environmental exploitation, migration, domestic abuse and political corruption but the key focus is personal, and as the reader it is impossible to forget the individuals who are at the heart of this collection. Whilst the issues dealt with may make this seem overly serious (and it is tragic too: her description of someone in the last days of AIDS is heartbreaking), it is also humorous; from the observations of the customers at the village's only bar, to the grandma carefully negotiating the benefits of political support in an election year. We switch between pidgen, French and English in the text.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote charl08 | Mar 2, 2015 |
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