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In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous UniIn a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous United States of Africa. It is in this world that an African doctor on a humanitarian mission to France adopts a child. Now a young artist, this girl, Malaïka, travels to the troubled land of her birth in hope of finding her mother—and perhaps something of her lost self. Her search, at times funny and strange, is also deeply poignant, reminding us at every moment of the turns of fate we call truth....

Title : In the United States of Africa
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780803222625
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 134 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

In the United States of Africa Reviews

  • Vicki
    2019-11-19 11:27

    Concept: 5 stars.Execution: 1 star.The idea is pretty straightforward: set a novel in a parallel reality where the Global South and North are flipped, where Americans and Japanese and Western Europeans rely on handouts from Haitians and Ethiopians and Vietnamese for subsistence. Great lens through which to examine racism and xenophobia. Not quite a novel, not quite a collection of essays; the book is loosely arranged around the life of Malaika / Maya, a white woman adopted as a child by a wealthy African doctor and his wife who live in the capital. There's a lot of potential here, but the book reads like Waberi got the idea for this novel, wrote out a list of 40 or so (really good, insightful, sometimes witty) points he'd like to make in the book, and then the follow-through just kind of collapsed. It seems like he tackled the ideas individually; turning each into a chapter anywhere from a paragraph to 10 pages long, and didn't bother to tie most of them together or even flesh out the individual chapters. The choppy style is grating: as soon as you start to appreciate the topic (fetishization of the exotic white woman in fashion, or Maya's sense of displacement when she interacts with poor white refugees in the capital, or leftist students volunteering in war-torn Ontario) it's over, and not just over but dropped for good. The voice of the book is confusingly inconsistent: the narrator talks to Maya in the second person, serves as a third-person omniscient for much of the book, and is replaced unexpectedly by newspaper reviews or the crumpled poetic manifesto found on a dead refugee's body. I honestly feel like I got more out of hearing that this book existed than I did out of reading it. I did have a great Being Confronted With Your Privilege in 90 Seconds Or Less moment when I found myself debating whether or not to shelve this under dystopia. But again, that's the concept at work, not the execution.

  • Anfenwick
    2019-11-16 06:27

    I love this book and I feel it's somehow not making it's way to the readers who would appreciate it - which is a shame. When I ordered it based on the synopsis, I was expecting something like a cross between Tale of Two Cities and Les Miserables. I was excited to see how an African author would imagine an African utopia and how his destitute Europe would accord with the one we know from history.It was quickly brought home to me that wasn't what I would be getting. If I can drop a few names: Jeanette Winterson, Italo Calvino, ... if you like that rather post-modern, poetic, not too long kind of stuff, full of cultural allusion and games with texts you may well like this. The 'west'/Africa reversal isn't meant to feel natural, neither are the characters and their actions. I enjoy reading that kind of literature so it got five stars from me.As examples: one of the nice things about the book is the endless stream of allusions to figures from African or African Diaspora history and culture(with token white people),though not everyone is in their original role. Several African-American literati seem to have become DJs, for example!?! But if he's missing, say, an African first man on the moon, he just makes one up. He takes bits of the Western discourse on Africa and cheerfully copies it over to his imaginary Africa without worrying too much about making it look seamless. It felt a bit like watching a puppet show (stylised, funny, with much use of found materials) in which the puppet master himself plays a prominent and quite humorous role. It's a feeling intensified by the fact that the book is not so much written in the second person as it consists of the author-narrator addressing his heroine in the imperative.The other thing I think worth knowing with regard to the translation is that his 'west'-transposed-to-Africa is very French. As a representation of France, French discourse on Africa, French peoples' views of themselves, even down to the circumstances of Malaika's life (the central character), it's a fair and reasonably accurate portrayal. English-speakers in Britain and the US will be more justified in not recognizing themselves or their cultures - which complicates the reversal.

  • Michelle
    2019-12-03 10:31

    Really liked the idea of this, but the writing style was hard to get into.

  • Franziska
    2019-12-04 08:24

    Zunächst mal einige Worte zum Aufbau: Das Buch gliedert sich in 4 Abschnitte, die jeweils nochmal in (meist recht kurze) Kapitel unterteilt sind. Diese Kapitel beginnen immer mit einer kurzen Zusammenfassung des folgenden Inhalts.In dem Buch werden verschiedene Personen erwähnt, die einzige, die man jedoch wirklich näher kennen lernt, ist Maya. Sie wurde in Frankreich geboren, nach 4 Jahren adoptiert und wuchs somit in Afrika (also im Wohlstand) auf. Es ist kaum verwunderlich, dass ihr das auf Grund ihrer Hautfarbe schwer fiel. Viel mehr möchte ich hier aber über die Handlung nicht verraten, da die Handlung sowieso recht rar gesät ist. Stattdessen erhält man durch eine sehr bildliche, poetische Sprache in verschiedenen Gedankenausschweifungen und über Details aus Mayas Leben einen Einblick in die Gesellschaft und das Weltbild. Natürlich geht es hier insbesondere um die Unterschiede zwischen Afrika und Europa ("Afrikanisierung" ist im Buch das passende Wort). Wenn man das Buch liest, wird einem als (Mittel)Europäer mal wieder klar wie gut wir es eigentlich haben - und wie anders alles sein könnte, wenn wir in einem anderen Land geboren worden wären oder die Geschichte einfach einen anderen Lauf genommen hätte.Ein wenig gewöhnungsbedürftig fand ich, dass der Erzähler Maya immer mit "Du" anspricht. Aber das ist wahrscheinlich sicher sehr subjektiv. Ansonsten gibt es in dem Buch viele Wortwitze bzw. Namensabwandlungen, sowohl im Bezug auf berühmte Persönlichkeiten als auch auf Kunst, Kultur oder Industrie. Nur um mal ein paar Beispiele zu nennen: PapeSy und AfroCola, McDioula und Sarr Mbock oder das "weltberühmte[n] Lächeln der Mouna Sylla". Teilweise gerät man bei diesen Abwandlungen wirklich ins Grübeln, wer oder was denn nun gemeint ist.Bisher klingt das ja soweit alles recht positiv, aber ich komme nicht umhin zu sagen, dass sich das Buch nicht gerade leicht liest. Es gibt viele Sprünge in der Handlung, es ist (meiner Meinung nach) eine ungewohnte Erzählweise und man würde eine ausgereifte Sachkenntnis über Afrika benötigen, um viele Anspielungen zu verstehen. Nichtdestotrotz bereue ich es nicht das Buch gelesen zu haben, die Grundidee des Buches ist es wert.

  • Mike
    2019-11-29 05:36

    In this short novel the roles of Africa and the West (Europe/USA) are reversed. Africa plays the part of wealth and empire, and the West is a poverty-ridden failure. These two leviathans of history, transvestite, share a woman; it is her story that we follow. Her origins in war-ravaged Europe eclipsed after being nurtured in the bosom of fortunate Africa, she returns to the land of her birth to find herself. It's all been told before, the tension between civilization and savagery that tears at the civilized soul; a tension that never seems to resolve, be it spanned in three dimensional Avatars, coated in essential oils, or contorted with yogic diligence. It's a cliché composed of clichés, this return to the primitive — a fractal tapestry of narrative fantasy that blankets our guilty souls. Perhaps our easy station is but the lucky residue of a sift for gold from a river of blood. No matter — as Heraclitus once said, "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you".In the United States of Africa is an examination of cultural narrative. In the end much of what is typically said starts to seem a little ridiculous, too conventional, too little about reality.Even though I really enjoy the work of Ryszard Kapuściński it was cute seeing him portrayed as a smug little boy who tells lies because he can.

  • Melissa
    2019-11-17 07:25

    Very interesting speculative/alternate history novel where countries of the African continent have been united into one federally-run superpower. This flips the narrative and puts Europe, the US, Australia, etc. into the place of the developing world (I learned from a fellow bookseller who spent a year working with an orphanage in Djibouti, where the author was born/grew up, that the country is more closely linked to France i.e. only French families can adopt children from Djibouti, which makes sense with the French-oriented plot of the novel). The ideas and world created by Waberi was very intriguing with a lot of moving parts and I was disappointed that the novel was so slim (only about 120 pages in the US translation). I would have loved more time to explore all the parts of the world rather than intermittently follow the main character. I think the narrative thread of the book is hard to follow, too, due to the author's choice to use a 2nd person narration - the "I" seems to be the author and the "you" is the young woman Maya/Malaika - and it jumps around quite a bit. I think a story collection set in this world by Waberi would be phenomenal.

  • Joshua
    2019-11-23 12:41

    Really good and really hard to read (in that the ideas are very challenging personally). It is a good and insightful look at the world as it is by looking through a looking glass at a world almost identical to our except for certain geographical specifics. The character of Yacuba, the poor Swiss worker, who can only be pitied for coming from a place so tragically divided by languages, cultures, and unarable, uninhabitable geography is a ringing rebuttal of using those factors and reasons for Africa suffering from poverty, war, disease, and the like. When the poor immigrants in the store are characters like me it is hard to hear the discussions in the novel about how they should be sent away because the well-off can't be expected to care for them all, and then it is convicting to know I have sometimes agreed with similar sentiments about immigrants who are not like me. Challenging in a really excellent way.

  • Louise
    2019-11-06 07:36

    J'ai mis pourtant beaucoup de volonté mais ce livre m'est tombé des mains. L'idée de départ (l'Afrique comme le seul continent prospère duquel afflue toute la misère d'Europe et d'au-delà) était intéressante, mais l'écriture est indigeste. Le lyrisme y est étouffant, le thème n'est décliné que sous la forme d'un simple négatif de notre monde actuel. On s'y ennuie ferme, on se perd dans les références érudites et la lourdeur de la narration, on ne s'attache ni à l'histoire ni au personnage...C'est à mon sens, un livre très maladroit et peu abouti. Passé les quelques références "retournées" pour l'adapter aux Etats-Unis d'Afrique (McDonalds qui devient McDiop pour n'en citer qu'un), le livre n'a aucune consistance et n'apporte aucune réflexion valant le détour.

  • Tatiana Delendik
    2019-11-08 11:27

    Le concept du roman est génial et ne mérite que des éloges!!!! Bravo à Waberi pour ça!!! "Casque bleus nigériens" ou "une insalubre favela de Zurich" , ça, c'est une satire de meilleure qualité! Pourtant le coté mécanique de la narration ne m'a point plu.. J'avais du mal à suivre le sujet et les personages..Peut-être c'est à cause de mon immaturiité litéraire (en ce qui concerne de lire en français) mais j'étais impatiante de terminer le livre le plus vite possible, parce qu'il m'encombrait déjà..

  • Patty
    2019-11-22 08:40

    It's a very compelling concept, and I would certainly read it again. History happened somewhat differently, so that in the contemporary world, the United States of Africa is the stable economic superpower, caucasions from Europe and the rest of the west are fleeing poverty and turmoil to it's shores, and the international economic language Ahmharic (I think). The book is super short, and like I said, I would read it again. There isn't really enough of a narrative to it for my taste, though, and it's pretty heavy handed. But very interesting. I will look for more by the author.

  • Filipa
    2019-11-12 06:41

    Povoado de belíssimas passagens e de muita sátira, e no entanto perde o fôlego por várias razões: não detalha o suficiente como funcionam ou foram criados estes Estados Unidos de África, perde-se nalgumas histórias paralelas e numa heroína que (para mim pelo menos) não se percebe, e tudo ou quase tudo é meramente invertidos, sofrendo estes EUA dos mesmos males que o nosso mundo desenvolvido. Sinceramente, eu queria perceber como era a vida neste país imaginado e não seguir a órfã Maya.

  • K's Bognoter
    2019-11-24 08:34

    In the United States of Africa tager afsæt i en interessant idé. Den er båret af meget vid og er sprogligt set ganske velskrevet. Romanen er meget ambitiøs i sin fortælleteknik, men for mig fremstod den som præget af for meget form og for lidt fortælling. Det er som om, romanen segner under sin egen ambition. Ihvertfald blev den aldrig rigtig interessant for mig.Læs hele anmeldelsen her: http://bognoter.dk/2016/08/21/abdoura...

  • Sue Kozlowski
    2019-12-02 11:17

    I just did not like this book. I had it as part of my quest to read a book by an author from every country in the world. There may be more to the story than I understand - there are probably references to people and things that I am not familiar with. But I agree with what other reviewers have written. It is almost as though the author jotted down notes - thoughts he wanted to expand on - and then just published those.

  • Andrew
    2019-11-24 05:40

    Whilst the concept behind this book seemed very interesting - Africa as the developed world versus the underdeveloped northern nations.Sadly it turned out to be a disappointing read. I found the style of writing difficult to follow as it is a collection of satirical tales rather than a specific story.

  • Bob Rust
    2019-11-27 12:14

    In the United States of Africa (2009) an Alternate World tale whose history is in a sense a mirror reversal of our own. The flow of immigrants to a "Promised Land" has been from West to East, with America now a land where poverty and ignorance generate excuses for racist responses when its citizens become migrant. The Satire is clearcut, though conveyed with a saving Humor.

  • Marc-Antoine
    2019-11-05 12:18

    Abdourahman A. Waberi has managed to take away everything I have and take for granted and give it to someone else. I watch from the sidelines as someone else takes it for granted. "I see," said the blind man.

  • Diana Vuiller
    2019-12-04 12:38

    Will make you think....praise to University of Nebraska Press for translation & publishing this book, quoting Percival Everett....

  • Val
    2019-11-11 07:33

    Djibouti

  • Purple Iris
    2019-11-23 12:14

    Ok, I give up. I love the premise of this book and the first few pages were fun. But there's no story to speak of and the cute little wordplays are just not holding my attention anymore.

  • Clémence
    2019-12-01 12:42

    Actual rating: 3,5 stars.

  • Rachel Jones
    2019-11-12 05:36

    The idea of this book is beautiful but, the reality of this book is uninspired and nothing special.

  • Erin
    2019-11-20 11:33

    Brilliant concept, like other reviews I found the writing style (or translation?) clunky but still well worth reading.

  • Abbi
    2019-11-10 06:12

    Interesting but in places hard to follow. Often like reading a prose poem, lovely writing.

  • Allison
    2019-11-29 08:15

    I expected this book to be a bit gimmicky, but it is actually a finely wrought, poetically written work of prose. The ideas are challenging, and the story is beautiful.

  • Tineke Dijkstra
    2019-11-22 06:28

    Interesting insights, brought to the reader in a very creative way. Waberi is a genius, although I must say that his style probably is hard to read when read for the first time (and all the more for those not used to African lit). I think at least two or three readings of the book are needed to take sufficient from it in order to recognize it as the master work it is - or, in some aspects, could be.