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The Story of The Madman

Mongo Beti


BUY Cloth · ISBN 9780813920481 · $60.00 · Aug 2001
BUY Paper · ISBN 9780813920498 · $22.50 · Aug 2001

Widely acclaimed when first published in French in 1994, Mongo Beti's tenth novel, L'histoire du fou, continues the author's humorous yet fierce criticism of the colonial system in Africa and its legacy of governmental corruption.

Translated here as The Story of the Madman, the novel gives the English-speaking world Beti's comic satire of the fictional Chief Zoaételeu and his favorite sons Zoaétoa and Narcisse. In a modern fable that Beti uses to illustrate the problems of a people's disintegrating values in a postcolonial state, Chief Zoaételeu, a puppet under two dictatorial regimes, is swept into the frontline of politics, where his fortunes unravel. Along with his caustic portrayal of failed government—clearly a reflection of his native Cameroon—Beti's realism provides an intriguing view of the struggle for balance between traditional life and imminent change in African culture.

Reviews:


Praise for The Poor Christ of Bomba:
In spite of the serious depth of the novel—its exploration of themes of racial and ethical incompatibility—comedy is always present in even the most dramatic scenes.

Times Literary Supplement

Praise for The Poor Christ of Bomba:
The book is extremely funny, with several scenes of ludicrous slapstick.

West Africa

Praise for King Lazarus:
Both the author and his African characters are good at making fun of themselves, deflating pomposity, loquacious oratory, and concern for prestige.

Books Abroad

Praise for Perpetua and the Habit of Unhappiness:
The poetic quality of the language cannot be denied... [and] reaffirms the author's literary stature.

Books Abroad

About the Author: 

Mongo Beti, a pseudonym for Alexandre Biyidi-Awala, was born in Cameroon in 1932 and was exiled for years in France, where he taught in Rouen. In addition to writing novels and essays, he is also the founder and editor of the journal Peuples noirs, peuples africains.

Elizabeth Darnel is a translator living in New York. Patricia-Pia Célérier is Associate Professor of French at Vassar College.

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