Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Patrice Nganang. Image from patricenganang.com.

The Cameroonian writer and Stony Brook literature professor Patrice Nganang, who in 2017 was arrested for criticising the country’s 37-year-ruling president Paul Biya, has a novel coming. When the Plums Are Ripe, which is translated from the French by Amy B. Reid, will be released by the American publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux on 13 August 2019. Set during Cameroon’s forced entry into World War II (1939-45), the 368-page book is the second in his historical fiction trilogy focused on the country. The first is Mount Pleasant (2017).

Here is a description from Amazon:

The second volume in a magisterial trilogy, the story of Cameroon caught between empires during World War II

In Cameroon, plum season is a highly anticipated time of year. But for the narrator of When the Plums Are Ripe, the poet Pouka, the season reminds him of the “time when our country had discovered the root not so much of its own violence as that of the world’s own, and, in response, had thrown its sons who at that time were called Senegalese infantrymen into the desert, just as in the evenings the sellers throw all their still-unsold plums into the embers.” In this novel of radiant lyricism, Patrice Nganang recounts the story of Cameroon’s forced entry into World War II, and in the process complicates our own understanding of that globe-spanning conflict. After the fall of France in 1940, Cameroon found itself caught between Vichy and the Free French at a time when growing nationalism advised allegiance to neither regime, and was ultimately dragged into fighting throughout North Africa on behalf of the Allies.

Moving from Pouka’s story to the campaigns of the French general Leclerc and the battles of Kufra and Murzuk, Nganang questions the colonial record and recenters African perspectives at the heart of Cameroon’s national history, all the while writing with wit and panache. When the Plums Are Ripe is a brilliantly crafted, politically charged epic that challenges not only the legacies of colonialism but the intersections of language, authority, and history itself.

Image from FSG Work in Progress.

When the Plums Are Ripe received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews (“A richly detailed novel . . . A brilliant, beguiling story”), and more positive reviews from Library Journal (“For those who appreciate how fiction illuminates history”), and Publishers Weekly (“With a narrative structure reminiscent of African oral traditions . . . with lyrical, soaring prose, Nganang sings their song, challenging the Euro-written history of colonialism and replacing it with a much-needed African one. The result is a challenging but indispensable novel”).

When the Plums Are Ripe is the second World War II novel we are getting this year, following the Ethiopian Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King.

Pre-order When the Plums Are Ripe on Amazon.

Tags: , ,

Otosirieze is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

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."

Archives

Bakwa Magazine Presents: Literary Translation Workshop in Collaboration with University of Bristol | How to Apply

Bakwa translation workshop

PRESS RELEASE: Bakwa Magazine, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, is pleased to announce that applications are open for […]

E.C. Osondu Wins the BOA Short Fiction Prize, Gets Publication Deal for His Manuscript, Alien Stories

EC Osondu

The Nigerian writer E.C. Osondu has won the $1,000 BOA Short Fiction Prize for the manuscript of his short story […]

The 2019 Writivism Prizes Awarded to Nigeria’s Frances Ogamba & South Africa’s Resoketswe Manenzhe

writivism 2019 winners - graph

The winners of the 2019 Writivism Prizes have been announced: the Koffi Addo Creative Nonfiction Prize went to Nigeria’s Frances […]

Teju Cole Offers Thoughts on Controversy Over NYT’s Coverage of Trump & Racism, Shares New Spotify Playlist

teju cole sydney morning herald

Days ago on Facebook, Teju Cole made a post about the debate over how The New York Times covers and […]

Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel Picked by Barrack Obama for His Summer 2019 Reading List

dinaw mengestu - how to read the air - graph - joydelire.worpress.com

Former US president Barrack Obama has revealed his summer 2019 reading list, and among his selections is the Ethiopian writer […]

Poetry Chapbook Review | Ama Asantewa Diaka’s You Too Will Know Me | Nana Prempeh

Ama asantewa diaka - you too will know me - graph

Publisher: Akashic Books. As part of African Poetry Book Fund (APBF)’s New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Sita), edited […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.