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Thread: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

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    Senegal Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    A great review of Boubacar Boris Diop's Murambi, Book of Bones

    A novel written in four parts, Murambi, The Book of Bones traces the return of a Rwandan history teacher, Cornelius Uvimana, to his motherland sometime after the 1994 genocide. At the time of the genocide, Cornelius had been living and working in Djibouti. Thus, except for one uncle, he is the only one of his close family to have survived. Yet the very distance that saves him is what stops him from knowing more than a few murky details of what happened to his family, his land and its people in those terrible days. His knowledge of those events is characterized by uncertainty and fragmentation. Parts one and three are collections of bits and pieces of stories portraying this: each part contains narratives of a multitude of voices who are involved in the genocide in one way or another. As a framing device, parts two and four trace Cornelius? own narrative of return and discovery. During his travels around the scarred landscape of Rwanda, visiting old friends and seeing genocide memorials, it is his trip to Murambi, his hometown, that proves to be the most painful and most revealing experience. Murambi is not only the village where he grew up?the place where he left his family?but it is also the site of one of the most gruesome mass murders of the genocide. As Jessica, his old childhood friend explains to him, between fifty and sixty thousand people were slaughtered over the course of a few days while sheltering in the Murambi Polytechnic School.

    The facts are staggering: ?Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days.? But even this fact is uncertain?some statistics say 800,000, others say one million. Some say 90 days, others say one hundred. Nevertheless, the numbers are so horrific they seem unreal. Another fact: ?Most of the dead were Tutsis?and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus.? And another one: ?The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.?1 The story is remarkably simple, and yet simultaneously nebulous. What story is more common than death? But at the same time, what could be more complicated to explain than the details, the justification, the causes? And, what is more complex than the aftermath, the brokenness that is left behind? How do we explain this? How are we to understand it all?

    Continuing reading here: Making Dead Bones Dance | The Mantle

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    I had the opportunity to see Boubacar Borios Diop in a conference back in 2007 here in Guadalajara. Unfortunately he didn't talk so much about his works since he came to present another African writer, Chenjerai Hove from Zimbabwe.
    The genocide in Rwanda topic, it's terrifying and fascinating at the same time. It is the brutality of human being at his bleakest peak. I haven't read any book, fiction or non fiction about this theme, but the movie Hotel Rwanda and a few articles from encyclopedia I've read are breath taking.
    I really want to check this book.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    Here's some pictures I took from Boubacar Borios Diop and Chenjerai Hove back in 2007
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    I just read about this author last night after reading an article on LitHub about 25 African Writers You Should Read. Even the original french versions of his novels are a bit hard to find and probably no longer in circulation, however the french publisher les Éditions Zulma re-released this one back in 2011 and is pretty easy to find. Obviously I ordered it and I am eager to dive in.

    By the way, here is the article that I was refering to

    http://lithub.com/25-new-books-by-af...u-should-read/

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    Interesting like hoodoo, most of them unknown writers to me. That just shows how poor is my knowledge of African literature. Of the 25 writers listed I've only read 3: Ben Jelloun, Boris Diop and N'diaye.
    It is interesting that authors like Helen Oyeyemi and N'diaye herself are considered African authors.

    Same article quotes about her origins: "Marie NDiaye once told an interviewer that while she would have been glad to claim a dual heritage if she had one—if her Senegalese father hadn’t left her native France when she was very young—Africa was essentially a mystery to her. “African origins don’t mean very much,” she said, “except for the fact that I can’t hide it because of my surname and the color of my skin.”
    It is a similar case to Ishiguro's about his Japanese origin. Personally I wouldn't consider N'Diaye as an African writer. With Oyeyemi it's a bit different as she uses African folk tales tradition in some of her novels.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    I began reading this book last night. So far, it is an astonishing work of literature. I hope to be able to read more of his work.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Interesting like hoodoo, most of them unknown writers to me. That just shows how poor is my knowledge of African literature. Of the 25 writers listed I've only read 3: Ben Jelloun, Boris Diop and N'diaye.
    It is interesting that authors like Helen Oyeyemi and N'diaye herself are considered African authors.

    Same article quotes about her origins: "Marie NDiaye once told an interviewer that while she would have been glad to claim a dual heritage if she had one—if her Senegalese father hadn’t left her native France when she was very young—Africa was essentially a mystery to her. “African origins don’t mean very much,” she said, “except for the fact that I can’t hide it because of my surname and the color of my skin.”
    It is a similar case to Ishiguro's about his Japanese origin. Personally I wouldn't consider N'Diaye as an African writer. With Oyeyemi it's a bit different as she uses African folk tales tradition in some of her novels.
    I wouldn't consider either of these authors "African." One is British and one is French. Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria but left when she was four. She was raised in Britain and I've never seen anything even evidencing that she's set foot in Africa or visited since leaving as a child.

    NDiaye was born in France, studied in Rome, and lives in Berlin. I don't see any evidence that she's ever set foot in Africa. Even if she has, that still doesn't make her 'African."

    This is basically the equivalent of someone calling Amy Tan "Chinese Literature."

    Additionally, Yaa Gyasi isn't African. She came to the US when she was two, and was raised and lived here her entire life since then. She won a PEN award given specifically to "American" authors. "Her debut novel Homegoing was inspired by a 2009 trip to Ghana, Gyasi's first trip to Ghana since leaving the country as an infant."

    So the first time she ever went to Ghana was when she was a 20 year old student attending an American college. Hardly the makings of a Ghanian author.
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 11-May-2017 at 07:51.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    I'm trying to make sense of this line of thinking. My wife and I are both American and we moved to Japan after grad school to teach EFL. Our son was born and raised there. Have we been remiss in not telling him he's really Japanese???
    Last edited by Stevie B; 12-May-2017 at 03:17.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    I'm trying to make sense of this line of thinking. My wife and I are both American and we moved to Japan after grad school to teach EFL. Our son was born and raised there. Have we been remiss in not telling him he's really Japanese???
    As you said, "born and RAISED there."

    Just to start with, none of these authors were raised in the African countries they're being identified with. They went to European or American schools for their entire lives and grew up out of Africa practically from the time being infants. They were not raised in African countries.

    Japanese nationality is denoted by blood, not location of birth though. Being born in Japan doesn't afford one Japanese citizenship. Your son would have to renounce his current citizenship.

    I'm also assuming your son went to an international school that was taught a majority of the time in English, not Japanese. And that he was probabaly taught by foreigners (not native Japanese teachers). Did he go to Japanese public/private schools and speak and complete schoolwork all in Japanese?

    In one instance I literally dont think the author has ever set foot in Africa. She wasn't born there either. I've also seen her referred to as a French author, not a Sengalese author, almost everywhere.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria and has Nigerian parents. She is clearly Nigerian by blood so why would you suggest she's not African? I'm reading between the lines here, but given the tenor of some of your previous posts, it seems that you're intimating these writers are unfairly playing up their African roots and ethnic-sounding names - perhaps as part of a subversive plot to sell more books? I wonder if your bitterness about Colson Whitehead winning a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for The Underground Railroad has spilled over to another continent.

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    Default Re: Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi, Book of Bones

    At no point did I say the authors are playing up their roots. That article on Lithub is (numerous Lithub articles are poorly researched, factually incorrect, and amount to little more than personal blog posts). The authors themselves aren't out there insisting that they're writing authentic Ghanaian literature. It's the same thing with Ishiguro: he isn't out there insisting that that he writes "Japanese" literature but there's articles online that say he is. None of them are "playing up their roots."

    There's a difference between having Nigerian roots and writing Nigerian (African) literature.

    These authors did not grow up or live for significant periods of times in African countries. They still don't live in them. They did not attend African schools or universities. They are not actively part of the domestic literary scenes in these countries. They are not winning domestic awards from these countries. Even their Wikipedia pages refer to them as "American, British, French."
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 13-May-2017 at 17:42.

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