Tchicaya U Tam’si: Les Cancrelats [The Cockroaches]

The latest addition to my website is Tchicaya U Tam’s‘s Les Cancrelats [The Cockroaches]. The novel is set from 1902 to 1945 and primarily tells the story of two siblings – Sophie and Prosper, born in Côte d’Ivoire to an Ivorian mother, who dies soon after Prosper’s birth, and Congolese father. He takes them back to his home but he, too, will die. Sophie will look after her younger brother throughout the book, as he makes poor choices (two marriages, where he neglects his wife, the first one dying). They will both work for the son of the Frenchman who employed their father, Sophie as his mistress, before they end up in Brazzaville. Tchicaya U Tam’si was a poet and this is more a poet’s novel, with the author focussing less on the plot and more on relationships and key events. In particular, it is critical of French colonial rule,a seen as cruel and arbitrary.

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