La Francophonie: a mosaïc of written & audio content to explore the best of contemporary literature
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
French language is not only spoken in France but in 29 other countries. While linguistic identities can be complex as in many countries French lives side by side with other official languages such as Flemish in Belgium, Arabic in Egypt and Wolof in Senegal, these multicultural panoramas have yet created a singular canon of literature which often explores heritage, war and exile but also legends, love and friendship. Reading is a unique opportunity to better understand society and to better connect with others, so is art, the radio and the proliferation of podcasts hosted by incredible women. Voices carry accents, breaths and silences and they allow for an alternative discovery of the beauty of French language.
Leïla Slimani (French/Moroccan) is the current ambassador for La Francophonie and her novel 'Le pays des autres" explores life in Meknes in the 1940/50's and what it means to be a mother raising two kids in a strange country.
Alice Zeniter (French/Algerian) won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens 2017 for 'L' art de perdre" in which she addresses some hidden issues of the Algerian war and more specifically raises questions about Harkis, exile, life in concentration camps and how ancient roots are transmitted from one generation to the other.
Maryse Condé (Guadeloupian) is a singular and much celebrated voice in literature since the 1980's and her novels take a closer look at the African diaspora that resulted from slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean. Overall, she has kept a distance from other Caribbean literary movements, such as Negritude and Creolité, and has mainly focused on topics with strong feminist and political concerns. The English translation by Richard Philcox of 'Moi, Tituba sorcière...' includes a foreword by activist Angela Davis, who calls the book an "historical novel about the black witch of Salem".
Fatou Diome (French/Senegalese) in 'Les veilleurs de Sangomar' addresses widowhood and spirituality, while Léonora Miano (Cameroonian) in 'Rouge Impératrice' examines love and politics in a fictional African land.
Mona Chollet (Swiss) in 'Sorcières: la puissance invaincue des femmes' analyses feminism and witchcraft while Diane Meur (Belgian) in 'Sous le ciel des hommes' summons an array of characters to discuss contemporary issues from migration to climate change.
Tobie Nathan (Egyptian) in 'La société des belles personnes' touches upon antisemitism and vengeance while Charif Majdalani (Lebanese) in 'Beyrouth 2020: Souvenirs d'un effondrement" shares memories about the August explosion in Beirut and thoughtfully examines the crises that preceded it and its aftermath.
We recommend the episodes:
Diane Meur: "J'ai essayé d'aiguiser le regard du lecteur sur son propre monde (in French)
Marie NDiaye:'L'Objet romanesque que je façonne, je tâche de l'avoir bien en mains" (In French)
Gabrielle Filteau-Chiba : "Cette cabane était autant une prison qu’un refuge" (in French)
Mona Chollet (In English or French)
Leïla Slimani (In English or French)
Finally the podcast 'Kiffe ta Race' on Binge Audio hosted by Grace Ly and Rokhaya Diallo specifically talks about issues relating to race and culture.