Remember when we announced Alain Mabanckou’s appointment at College de France? [click here if you missed it.]

We have since caught up with him, and from all indications, the Congolese novelist is enjoying his time in Paris where he is serving as the 2015-2016 artistic director at the College de France.

Earlier in the month, he gave an inaugural lecture titled Black Letters: From Darkness to Light. The title sounds grand and admittedly fascinating, but right now, our eyes are glued to the blue–we are guessing–velvet suit that he wore to the event. We should be asking what the lecture was about but are clearly more invested in who styled him.

African writers have been known to take their looks seriously. Soyinka had the reputation of being a fashion bug in his day. Binyavanga Wainaina has won a tutu on several occasions. Chimamanda Adichie is a self-proclaimed fashionista. But this suit right here, is a whole new level of wow-ness—very cobalt, very reflective, and certainly lecture approved.

The lecture was, as is expected, a big hit—with some on Twitter calling it historic. Word on the streets says the English translation of the lecture will be available in audio file soon. We’ll be sure to make it available here.

But life as a literary professor in a top French university is not just about dapper suits and lectures delivered to a full house. Last Sunday, Mabanckou was hard at work prepping for his March 29th seminar titled “Negritude After Senghor, Cesaire, and Damas,”—as evidenced in a photo he tweeted (see below). Negritude is the black nationalist movement that inspired a whole generation of—mostly francophone—African writers. What we would give for a chance to attend a class on Negritude taught by one of Africa’s most influential francophone writers.

Mabanckou will be at College de France till the end of the academic year and has events up until May.




Post image by @PatrickSimonin via Twitter.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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