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.