[diary] 6 – guinea

Isoma everyone !

When I was searching for titles on the Internet, I happened to come upon the lovely blog of Missbouquinaix : there, I learned that she was also attempting to discover books from all over the world. By reading through her list for the challenge Around the Word in Eighty Days, I noticed a book by Camara Laye, called The Dark Child. After having read the résumé, I immediately felt like reading it too, I bought it (second-hand, for 2 euros, such a good deal) and here is the result !


This book is actually a childhood autobiography of Camara Laye himself, all taking place in his home country Guinea… and from the first lines, I surprisingly knew that I would without a doubt love this text. Maybe you want to ask why ? Simply because I instantly, irredeemably fell in love with the writing style of the author (I know, what a subjective criterium !). Such a sudden enthusiasm is rare enough for me to be enhanced ; and my whole reading experience was supported and motivated by the rhythmed, musical sentences, by the carefully chosen words, by the simplicity and the efficiency of the style.

Before the story even starts, we can read a poetical tribute from the author to his mother, that directly set the frame for the rest of the book : here, family is an essential theme, and the communal life of the city as well. And indeed, we can definitely feel all along the pages the convivial and warm atmosphere that surrounded the narrator at the time. In spite of the fears, dramas and separations, this loving environment is what I will remember from this story. With its many dancing, friendly reunions, traditional ceremonies and dailylife scenes, Camara Laye’s text shows us a simple but happy life. I was hoping that the whole book would settle in Guinea, because what interested me the most was the part about African customs : I was not disappointed. The Dark Child describes with a poetic and precise approach a lot of guinean traditions. We can thus attend rites of passage to adulthood, witness the mysterious powers of the author’s mother, observe the working routine of his father…

I envoyed this book a lot, due notably to its melodious writing and to all the informations it gave me about the 1940s’ life in Guinea. Each page made me a bit more curious in regard to this African culture I didn’t know at all, and incited me to continue my reading. The Dark Child is a contemporary classic of African literature, and for me it was a true favorite. Don’t hesitate if you can read it, you won’t regret it (I hope…and, anyway, if you don’t like it…at least it’s rather short !).

> The next review will be about The History of Argentina, by Rodrigo Fresán.

> LAYE, Camara – L’Enfant noir, éditions Pocket.
> written listening to “
Liberté” .

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