Category: Comoros

Ali Zamir: Anguille sous Roche [Eel Under Rock]


The latest addition to my website is Ali Zamir‘s Anguille sous Roche [Eel Under Rock], a Comorian novel published this summer, which has received a certain amount of acclaim in France, with added publicity when the author was initially refused a visa to enter France. The story is told in a stream-of-consciousness format by Anguille (French for eel) who, at the start of the novel seems to be drowning and is recounting her life story before she drowns. She and her twin sister Crotale (French for rattlesnake) live with their father Know-All (he is an assiduous reader of newspapers), a fisherman). Their mother died giving birth to them. Initially, it seems that Crotale is the badly behaved one, arriving late to school and hanging out with boys but, once Anguille meets Vorace (French for Voracious), she ceases to be the good girl and takes up drinking, smoking, missing school and, it would seem, unprotected sex with Vorace. When her father finds out that she is pregnant and she finds out that Vorace is far from faithful, things go very wrong. What makes this novel is Anguille’s lively and colourful account of her life and the life around her, her comments on others, including her father and sister and her determination to get her own way.

Mohamed Toihiri: La République des Imberbes [The Republic of the Beardless]


The latest addition to my website is Mohamed Toihiri‘s La République des Imberbes [The Republic of the Beardless], the first novel from the Comoros on my website. The Comoros have had a tumultuous history since independence from France in 1975 and this novel gives a barely fictionalised account of a specific period when the ruthless Ali Soilih was in power for around two and a half years. The novel starts with his overthrow by a small group of mercenaries, led by John Ménard, the not very well disguised Bob Denard but goes on to give Soilih’s (called Guigoz in the book) thoughts about his life, ranging from his completely closing down the civil service to banning sorcery (and arresting and torturing those who practised it) to appointing young people (hence the title) to key positions. In the meantime, Soilih/Guigoz is totally ruthless, vicious and cruel to all and sundry. A fascinating book, though not available in English, to add the list of novels about dictators.

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