Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou is the master humorist of contemporary African fiction. Within the English speaking parts of Africa and the world, Mabanckou is the most well-known African novelist writing in French. He is the author of contemporary classics such as Broken Glass and African Psycho.
He recently secured an appointment as a visiting professor in one of France’s top institutions—College de France. Mabanckou is the first writer to hold the position of Chair of Artistic Creation. So expectations are high.
His appointment begins in mid-march. He’ll be spending time with students and faculty in Paris, facilitating courses, seminars, and symposia. He is also expected to present an inaugural lecture.
In an interview with Frédérique Briard [here], Mabanckou discloses that holding a position at College de France is not something he’d ever imagined for himself. He recalls passing by the school on his way to bookshops nearby but never giving the institution a moment’s thought. College de France represented that old, conservative idea of higher institutions as closed and elitist communities. But Mabanckou sees the opportunity to teach at the university for the next one year as a chance to initiate much need conversations around openness and inclusion. He is also excited to lecture on African literary history within the context of race, negritude, and literary innovation.
This is great news. It’s yet another chance to spread the gospel of African literature world wide. So congrats to Mabanckou!
He is currently affiliated to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he has taught for the past 13 years. Teaching in France at a very conservative institution will be very different, but we are sure that he is up to the challenge.
Post image by Claude Truong via Wikimedia