Women Writers Series: A Few Authors of Cameroon

    The course Global Literature: Modern Writings from Women of the Non-Western World was one of the most important college classes I’ve ever taken as a writer. Dr. Jo Dulan at Salem College taught this literature course. It allowed me the ability to break out of US literature and explore books on a more global scale from the vital perspective of a woman writer.

    In appreciation of this experience, I have researched a few authors from various countries, provinces, regions, etc. outside of the USA that have translated works available in English; many of the writers have works available in their native tongues and other languages as well. This series is merely a tool to introduce you to a large amount of important writers.

    I do not propose that the written works or the writers that I feature are the most important, the most popular, or are able to speak for an entire identity or culture. Rather, I am hoping to simply give suggestions to create interest in global literature. It is important to recognize writers — especially women, who are often underrepresented — from all parts of the world.

    Keep an open mind as you read. Sometimes things are lost in translation, and sometimes a subject may take more research to understand.

    This post will cover a few authors from Cameroon. Please feel free to suggest additional authors in the comments. You can find last month’s post here.


    Calixthe Beyala

    calixthe_beyala
    Image via CamerNews

    Calixthe Beyala, born in 1961, is a Cameroonian-French author who was “born in Sa’a to a Cameroonian mother and a father from the Central African Republic, where she lived for the first few years of her life. Her parents separated when she was five and she was raised by her nine-year-old sister in one of the slums of Cameroon’s largest city, Douala.”

    Try this: Your Name Shall Be Tanga by Calixthe Beyala

    Overview of Your Name Shall Be Tanga from barnesandnoble.com:

    “This is the story of two female prisoners who become spiritually linked. One is labelled mad the other a counterfeiter. One is of French-Jewish origin, the other African. Their solidarity intensifies as prison life deteriorates. Calixthe Beyala underlines the solidarity that unites women across racial, religious, class and national lines in this novel about a young woman dying in a West African prison cell.”

    Learn more about Calixthe Beyala.


    Werewere-Liking

    were
    Image via Live.ci

    Born in Cameroon, Werewere-Liking is a writer, playwright, performer, and writer based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Born in 1950, Cameroon “is a writer, playwright and performer based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She established the Ki-Yi Mbock theatre troupe in 1980 and founded the Ki-Yi village in 1985 for the artistic education of young people.”

    Try this: The Amputated Memory: A Song-Novel by Werewere-Liking

    Overview of The Amputated Memory: A Song-Novel from amazon.com:

    “A modern-day Things Fall Apart, The Amputated Memory explores the ways in which an African woman’s memory preserves, and strategically forgets, moments in her tumultuous past as well as the cultural past of her country, in the hopes of making a healthier future possible.

    “Pinned between the political ambitions of her philandering father, the colonial and global influences of encroaching and exploitative governments, and the traditions of her Cameroon village, Halla Njokè recalls childhood traumas and reconstructs forgotten experiences to reclaim her sense of self. Winner of the Noma Award—previous honorees include Mamphela Ramphele, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Ken Saro-Wiwa—The Amputated Memory was called by the Noma jury ‘a truly remarkable achievement… a deeply felt presentation of the female condition in Africa; and a celebration of women as the country’s memory.'”

    Learn more about Werewere-Liking.


    Léonora Miano

    leonora_miano_em_brasilia_01
    Léonora Miano/Valter Campanato & Agência Brasil/CC BY 3.0 BR

    From University of Nebraska Press: “Léonora Miano was born in Cameroon in 1973 and lived there until moving to France in 1991. She has published three novels.”

    Try this: Dark Heart of the Night by Léonora Miano.

    Overview of Dark Heart of the Night from University of Nebraska Press:

    “What is Africa’s own ‘heart of darkness’? It is what confronts Ayané when, after three years abroad, she returns to the Central African village of her birth. Now an ‘outsider’ with foreign ways distrusted by her fellow villagers, she must face alone the customs and superstitions that bind this clan of men and women. When invading militia organize a horrific ceremony that they claim will help reunite Africa, Ayané is forced to confront the monstrosity of the act that follows, as well as the responsibility that all the villagers must bear for silently accepting evil done in their name.

    “Through Ayané’s unwilling witness, Léonora Miano probes the themes of submission and responsibility and questions the role of Africans in the suffering of their fellows. Also exploring African identity, Dark Heart of the Night is a profoundly disturbing novel in its evocation of the darkest side of people driven by their instinct to survive.”

    Learn more about Léonora Miano.

    LeeAnn Adams (pen name L. N. Holmes) was born in Wilmington, Ohio. She is a 2013 graduate of Salem College’s creative writing program. Her work has appeared in literary magazines, lifestyle magazines, and a newspaper. She is a foodie, a Christian, an award winning writer, and owns an absurd amount of books. You can find more of her work on her blog, A Vase of Wildflowers. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @LNHolmeswriter. She currently lives in Nebraska with her husband, her two cats, and her dog.

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