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The Oldest Orphan [Paperback]

Tierno Monenembo , Adele King , Monique Fleury Nagem

RRP: £9.99
Price: £9.76 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 2004
Tierno Monénembo was among the African authors invited to Rwanda after the 1994 Tutsi-Hutu massacre to "write genocide into memory." In his novel The Oldest Orphan, that is precisely what Monénembo does, to devastating effect. Powerful testimony to an unspeakable historical reality, this story is told by an adolescent on death row in a prison in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Dispassionately, almost cynically, the teenager Faustin tells his tale, alternating between his days in jail, his adventures wandering the countryside after his parents and most of the people of his village have been massacred, and his escapades as a cheerful hoodlum in the streets of Kigali. Only slowly does the full horror of his parents' death and his own experience return to Faustin. His realization strikes the reader with shattering force, for it carries in its wake the impossible but inescapable questions presented by such a murderous episode of history and such a crippling experience for a child, a people, and a nation. A native of Guinea, Tierno Monénembo lived in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Algeria, and Morocco before settling in France in 1973. He is the author of seven novels. Monique Fleury Nagem is a professor of modern languages at McNeese State University and the translator of Céleste Mogador's Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Nebraska 2001). Adele King is a professor emerita of French at Ball State University and the editor of From Africa: New Francophone Stories (Nebraska 2004).

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The Oldest Orphan + A Question of Power (Heinemann African Writers Series) + Nervous Conditions
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Product details

  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (1 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803282850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803282858
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15 x 1.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,014,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A devastatingly moving novel about one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century. That it is an African tragedy and that the author is African makes it all the more important for American readers in these perilous times when national borders grow increasingly fragile. Translated with eloquent grace by Monique Fleury Nagem, this powerful book deserves the widest possible audience."--Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huck Finn in Rwanda 14 Jan 2005
By Karen K. Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sometimes, constructing an elaborate fiction-as Tierno Monénembo does here-reveals an emotional truth deeper than would be possible with any journalistic account. Mr. Monénembo has lived in exile from his native Guinea since 1969, studying in Senegal, Abidjan, and Lyon before settling in Normandy. The Oldest Orphan is his seventh novel, and second of his books to be translated to English.

The narrative is fragmented between flashback and a blur of present tense, where the protagonist Faustin's memory wanders between age 10 and age15. At age 15, Faustin exists in prison, awaiting execution, accused of killing the boy who allegedly raped his sister. Faustin faces heroic challenges with humor, resourcefulness, and remnants of an innocence that has been brutally truncated by genocidal mania. The facts are difficult, and blurred, against the backdrop of social & political upheaval.

This is an important novella concerning the Rwanda genocide of 1994, written by one of the strongest literary voices available in translation from the African continent.
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