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Congolese author Alain Mabanckou, possibly the most prominent name in Francophone African literature and renowned for his experimental writing, has a new book in the works: a collection of essays based on his lectures delivered during his tenure as a visiting professor at the Collège de France. The book, titled Huit leçons sur l’Afrique (loosely translated as Eight Lessons on Africa), will be released by French publishing house Éditions Grasset on January 8, 2020. No translation has yet been scheduled.

Here is a description of the book by Éditions Grasset, accompanied by our own (rough) translation:

En 2016, Alain Mabanckou a occupé la Chaire de création artistique du Collège de France. C’était la première fois qu’un écrivain africain était amené à y enseigner la littérature et la culture si souvent dédaignées du «  continent noir  ».

Alain Mabanckou est l’héritier de l’histoire littéraire et intellectuelle de l’Afrique, qu’il retrace dans ces Huit leçons sur l’Afrique données au Collège de France. Croisant la stylistique et la vision politique, envisageant la littérature mais aussi le cinéma et la peinture, les Leçons d’Alain Mabanckou sont une nouvelle façon de visiter la francophonie, matière moins conventionnelle que son nom ne pourrait l’évoquer. La France n’est pas le seul centre de gravité de ce monde-langue. De «  Y’a bon  » à Aimé Césaire, la lutte a été longue pour passer «  des ténèbres à la lumière  », et c’est une vision apaisée des rapports de la culture africaine au monde que ces Huit leçons proposent.

Loin d’être en concurrence avec la culture française, la culture noire, d’Afrique, de Haïti ou d’Amérique, l’enrichit. «  La négritude n’est pas essentiellement une affaire de Noirs entre les Noirs, mais une façon de reconsidérer notre humanisme. »

Le livre est enrichi d’un avant-propos inédit et de deux interventions d’Alain Mabanckou sur l’Afrique, dont sa fameuse lettre ouverte au président de la République sur la francophonie.


In 2016, Alain Mabanckou held the position of Chair of Artistic Creation at the Collège de France. It was the first time that an African author had been invited to teach, at the Collège de France, the literature and culture of a place so often disdainfully dubbed the “black continent.”

Alain Mabanckou is an heir to the literary and intellectual traditions of Africa, which he retraces in Eight Lessons on Africa Given at the Collège de France. Weaving style and political vision, contemplating literature, but also cinema and painting, Mabanckou’s Lessons presents a new way of visiting the French-speaking world, a topic less conventional than his name evokes. France is not the only center of gravity in this language-world. From “Y’a bon” [a pidgin French phrase] to Aimé Césaire, the struggle has been long for African culture to emerge “from darkness to light,” and it is a peaceful vision of African cultures being in the world which these Eight Lessons offer.

Far from being in competition with French culture, black culture—whether of Africa, Haiti, or the Americas— enrich it. “Négritude is not fundamentally an issue between blacks, but a way of reconsidering our humanism.”

The book is supplemented with an unedited foreword and two interventions by Alain Mabanckou on behalf of Africa, including his famous open letter to the president of France on the Francophone world.

Mabanckou recently shared the cover of this forthcoming book on Instagram:

A rough translation of his caption: “Appearing 8 January 2020. My time at the Collège de France. Eight lessons on the challenges of the African continent since the era of colonial expeditions until post-independence conflicts. Supplementary material: unedited letters on the Francophone world and the contributions of African soldiers (Senegalese riflemen) during the world wars.”

We’re looking forward to Huit leçons, but even more to its future availability in English!

Congratulations Alain Mabanckou — or rather, félicitations.

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    […] Brittle Paper has news about Alain Mabanckou’s next book. […]

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