Tag: civil war

Gaël Faye: Petit pays [Little Country]

pays

The latest addition to my website is Gaël Faye‘s Petit pays [Little Country]. Gaël Faye was born in Burundi of a French father and a Rwandan mother. He now lives in France and has been a successful hip-hop artist. This is his first novel. This is an autobiographical novel of his life in Burundi. On the whole he had a happy childhood, though his parents separated when he was a bit older. At about this time, the situation in Rwanda, which had been bad and then improved, suddenly got much worse. His mother, who had had to leave soon after independence, tried to find her family but nearly loses her life. Meanwhile, after the first democratic election of a president in Burundi, the president is assassinated. This leads to terrible violence in the country. Initially, they are relatively protected in Bujumbura but the violence spreads there and the family is involved, witnessing a brutal murder and they are at risk from attack. Eventually, they are evacuated to France. Faye tells an excellent story about the horrors of the two wars and how the country he loved so much become a country he has to leave. Despite the haven that France offers, he continues to feel a foreigner there and misses Burundi. This novel won two French literary prizes.

Max Aub: Campo cerrado (Field of Honour)

field

The latest addition to my website is Max Aub‘s Campo cerrado (Field of Honour). Aub was born into a French Jewish family but the family moved to Seville when he was eleven and he adopted Spanish as his language. He is best-known for his series of six books called the Magic Labyrinth, set in the Spanish Civil War. This is the first, and the only one translated into English. It tells the story of Rafael Serrador, a young man from Castellón, near Valencia who, aged sixteen, moves to Barcelona. He gradually becomes involved in politics. He is very unsure of himself and what he believes and ends up joining the Falange, i.e. the Fascists. He starts becoming disillusioned when the leader tells him that he is interested only in ideas and not people. When the Spanish Civil War does break out, at the end of the novel, we follow events in Barcelona as the workers resist the take-over of the city by the Fascists and Nationalists. At this point, Rafael realises the error of his ways and fights with the anarchists rather than the Falange. It is an excellent book, though the language is sometimes difficult (in the Spanish; I have not seen the English version) and Aub does get carried away with both his descriptions and dialogue.

Cyprian Ekwensi: Survive the Peace

survive

The latest addition to my website is Cyprian Ekwensi‘s Survive the Peace. This novel is set at the end of the Biafran War. James Odugo is a radio journalist who has been travelling around Biafra, broadcasting news of the war, with the radio station continually having to move as the Federals get closer. James’ wife and children are in a village well removed from the war. He is having an affair with Vic, a woman who also broadcasts for the radio station. At the start of the novel, the war seems to be ending. The town where James and Vic is bombed but Biafran soldiers rush into the town and discard their uniforms and weapons and flee. James and Vic manage to escape in his car and stay with a friend of James in another town. Vic wants to find her mother, James to find his family and Gladys Nwibe, with whom James had a brief fling earlier in the war, wants to find him. As the title tells us, surviving the peace is often more difficult than surviving the war, as chaos ensues, with armed robbers, the Nigerian soldiers raping the women, a shortage of food and other supplies, refugees fleeing and disease, when all most people want to do, James and Vic included, is to put their lives back together and start living a normal life. Ekwensi tells a good story of the hazards of a life after a war, where most people find their lives thrown upside down and most people have lost a friend or relative.

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