Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."


The opening up of the African literary scene—the inter-lingual communion of its Indigenous, Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone literatures—remains in progress. Each year, a step forward is taken. In 2017, Abdulai Sila’s The Ultimate Tragedy became the first novel from Guinea-Bissau to be translated into English. Earlier this year, Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La Bastarda became the first English-language novel by a woman out of Equatorial Guinea. And now Beyond the Rice Fields, the debut novel by Malagasy writer Naivoharisoa Patrick Ramamonjisoa whose publishing name is Naivo, has become the first novel from Madagascar to be translated into English. It was first published in its French original version in March 2012 by Éditions Sépia in Paris. Translated by Allison M. Charette, the 400-page book tells the story of a girl, Fara, who falls in love with her father’s slave, Tsito, against the backdrop of “upheavals of the nation’s [Madagascar’s] past as it confronted Christianity and modernity.”

Here is a description by its international publishers Simon & Schuster:

Fara and her father’s slave, Tsito, have been close since her father bought the boy after his forest village was destroyed. Now in Sahasoa, amongst the cattle and rice fields, everything is new for Tsito, and Fara at last has a companion. But as Tsito looks forward to the bright promise of freedom and Fara, backward to a dark, long-denied family history, a rift opens between them just as British Christian missionaries and French industrialists arrive and violence erupts across the country. Love and innocence fall away, and Tsito and Fara’s world becomes enveloped by tyranny, superstition, and fear.

With captivating lyricism, propulsive urgency, and two unforgettable characters at the story’s core, Naivo unflinchingly delves into the brutal history of nineteenth-century Madagascar. Beyond the Rice Fields is a tour de force that has much to teach us about human bondage and the stories we tell to face—and hide from—ourselves, each other, our pasts, and our destinies.

In an email to Brittle Paper, Nathan Rostron, Editor and Marketing Director of Restless Books, stated:

This translation from the French lets English-language readers discover a surprising and beautiful part of African culture unfamiliar to most.

Beyond the Rice Fields has drawn remarkable comparisons. With its treatment of friendship across social classes, it has been likened to Spanish Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, American Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Afghan Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Its richly detailed portrayal of the 19th-century clash between Madagascar’s ancestral culture and European modernity and Christianity has put it in a similar thematic tradition as the novels of Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz, and Ghana’s Yaa Gyasi. And its exploration of slavery in Madagascar, a phenomenon predating colonialism, has seen it presented as telling “a story of human bondage that offers a slant perspective on American history” and as “a fitting companion to [American] Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, [Jamaican] Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women, [and Moroccan] Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account.

The novel has earned advance praise as well.

Publishers Weekly wrote:

Naivo’s novel . . . pairs a sweeping, tragic love story with the 19th-century history of his island, when it teetered “on the verge of catastrophe.” Naivo’s encyclopedic attempt to capture Madagascar’s history is admirable . . . the novel’s characters [are] fully realized in the novel’s thrilling conclusion . . . Naivo provides readers with an astonishing amount of information about Madagascar’s culture and past.

Africultures describes it this way:

The epic story of a country entering a new era. This love and adventure story doubles as a discreet but caustic challenge of the foundations of contemporary Malagasy society itself. A celebration of language and culture, and a needle-sharp questioning of the machinery of society. This novel is both easy and complex, seductive and provocative, sentimental and clear-sighted. A journey through time, space, language, and the human heart—or, everything that we ask of a novel.

Naivoharisoa Patrick Ramamonjisoa has worked as a journalist in his home country of Madagascar and as a teacher in Paris. He now lives and works as a journalist in Ottawa, Canada. Naivo received the RFI/ACCT prize in 1996 for his short story “Dahalo,” and another of his stories, “Iarivomandroso,” was adapted for a theatrical production in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He recently published a short story collection, Madagascar entre poivre et vanille, which explores various topics pertaining to contemporary Madagascar including the socialist era, the recurrent political coups, the corruption of the judiciary system, and the monarchic and colonial resurgences.

The translator Allison M. Charette​ translates literature from French into English. She received a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for Beyond the Rice Fields. She founded the Emerging Literary Translators’ Network in America (, a networking and support group for early-career translators. Allison has published two other book-length translations, in addition to short translated fiction that has appeared in Words Without Borders, The Other Stories, Tupelo Quarterly, InTranslation, The SAND Journal, and more. Find her online at

Congratulations to Naivoharisoa Patrick Ramamonjisoa.

To buy Beyond the Rice Fields:



For more Info, visit HERE.

Tags: , , , ,

OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

One Response to “Naivo’s Beyond The Rice Fields Is the First Novel from Madagascar to be Translated into English” Subscribe

  1. John Chizoba Vincent 2018/05/13 at 11:22 #

    Beautiful one… Can’t wait to lay my hands on it

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."


Opportunity for African Poets | Enter for the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize

Romeo Oriogun (2)

Submissions for the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize will begin on 30 October and end on 12 December 2018. Previous […]

Alain Mabanckou’s 11th Novel, Black Moses, Wins 2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction


Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses has won the 2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. The Congolese writer and UCLA professor’s 11th novel, which was […]

Un-Silencing Queer Nigeria: The Language of Emotional Truth | Five Writers in Conversation

Brittle Paper Anniversary Conversation - Un-Silencing Queer Nigeria

To mark BRITTLE PAPER‘s 7th anniversary in 2017, we organised two conversations on our Facebook page. The second, themed “Un-Silencing […]

#LIPFest18 | Register for Poetry Workshops with Kwame Dawes, Nick Makoha, Lebo Mashile, and Yomi Sode 

lipfest - lebo mashile

The 2018 Lagos International Poetry Festival (#LIPFest18) is offering workshops by some of the biggest names in contemporary African poetry. Much-honoured […]

The Freedom Artist, Ben Okri’s New Novel Forthcoming in January 2019, Is a Rallying Call in a Post-Truth Society

Ben Okri. Photo credit: David Levenson / Getty.

Ben Okri has a new novel forthcoming in January 2019. The Nigerian novelist-poet-essayist, who is the only black African to […]

Nuruddin Farah’s 14th Novel, North Of Dawn, Explores the Lives of Somali Immigrants in Norway and Experiences of Religion and Jihadism

nuruddin farah

Celebrated Somali writer Nuruddin Farah’s new novel will be out on 4 December 2018. The 384-page North of Dawn, forthcoming […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.