It’s our turn to eat” tells the story of John Githongo, a friend of the author, who served as Kenya’s top anti-corruption official, under the government of President Mwai Kibaki in the late 90s.
Born in 1960, Leïla Marouane is an Algerian writer, who has lived and worked in France since 1990. Marouane’s books include The Girl from the Casbah (1996), Ravisseur (1999), and La Jeune Fille et la Mère. The latter book received the Prix Jean-Claude Izzo in 2006. Marouane has also previously been awarded the LiBeraturpreis at the Frankfurt Book Fair (received in 2004).
In this interview with Hadrien Diez, Marouane talks about her writing, and shares her thoughts on religion, women oppression, and the politics of her country.
Leila Marouane’s fifth novel, The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris, is by many aspects, a radical shift in the author’s work. The novel’s central character is a man: Mohamed Ben Mokhtar – or Basile Tocquard as he oddly re-baptised himself; a middle-manager banker in his forties, full of self-confidence. Ben Mokhtar is a second-generation Algerian immigrant, something you would barely notice since he takes great care to whiten his skin and straighten his hair.
Initially published in South Africa by Jacana Media in 2010, the book won the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke award for the best science-fiction novel in the U.K. The book’s hard-headed plot carefully blends ambiguous heroes and juicy villains, dragging the reader along a half reinvented Johannesburg plagued by crime, superstition and bad teen pop music.
Setting his story in biblical times, with a contemplative style and archaic vocabulary that dramatically sharpens the novel’s general picture, the author revisits the worn-out pattern of the Nativity tale to challenge the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Between the lines of his daring plot, Mgqolozana also succeeds in raising unexpectedly modern issues such as the place of women in society.
A novelist, poet and essayist, Denis Hirson grew up in apartheid-ridden Johannesburg, South Africa. He left the country at the age of 22, after his father’s release from jail. Moving first to the UK, he later settled in France in 1975, where he teaches English today. Remaining true to the title of one of his poems – The long distance South African, he has written several novels revolving around the memory of the apartheid years. From his début book The House Next Door to Africa (1986) to the much praised I Remember King Kong (The Boxer), his frequent crossing between prose and poetry have installed him as one of South Africa’s most original voices. Hirson’s latest novel, The Dancing and the Death in Lemon Street has just been released. In this interview, he talks about growing up in South Africa, and how this impacted his literary approach.
Incisive, impetuous,impertinent: Rian Malan is the kind of literary animal – or should we say beast? – whose fierceness only matches his sense of the narration. In Resident Alien, his collection of 27 articles, Malan provides a book that is evidently provocative but engaging enough to be recommended to anybody willing to approach contemporary South Africa in oblique and often hilarious ways.
Praised in South Africa as one of the most stunning début novels in decades, Sifiso Mzobe’s “Young Blood” is a page-turner that subtly mixes a crime fiction plot, hard-headed characters and latent social comment. Published by Kwela Books in 2010, the book won the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Award for best fiction – a rare honour for a first-time novelist in his early thirties. Booze, sex, drugs, stolen cars and easy money: “Young Blood” is a gangster story set in Umlazi, Durban’s biggest township.
Self delusion and self awareness are central themes in Mabanckou’s work. By patiently chronicling the tragicomedies surrounding him, Broken Glass testifies of life’s harshness when one is poor and has nothing but liquor and past dreams to escape his condition. But humour is never far with Mabanckou, and Broken Glass, with its inimitable prose can soothe the direst tragedies.
Published in 2011 by Jacana Media (South Africa), Denis Hirson’s “The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street” is an elegant, bitter-sweet novel that leaves its reader sore and admiring altogether. Admiring for this meticulous account of the first months of 1960 in an anonymous white suburb of Johannesburg – where lawns are razor cut and black maids discretely pop up in tubular pastel dresses as soon as called – is an evocative tour de force.