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Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono

Houseboy - Ferdinand Oyono

Another world fiction challenge book, my fourth in a month; I'm overdosed on these right now and need to take a break.

This novella is purportedly the diary of a Cameroonian "houseboy" (actually a young man, though we never learn his age), which as it is fiction, of course doesn't read like any real diary ever written. He becomes the servant of a powerful colonist, learns more about the whites than they're comfortable having him know, and it turns out badly for him. This book was originally published in 1956, when Cameroon was still a French colony, and no doubt caused a stir at the time and has historical value for that reason.

Eh, I could give some analysis of this book, the simple and abrupt writing style (at least in translation), the story that focuses on the day-to-day activities of the white employers more so than the narrator's inner life or feelings, but it boils down to another "this book has some academic value, but otherwise isn't likely to be of much interest unless you're from the area" review. I am tired of writing those reviews and you all are tired of reading them. I've read so many of these books now that even the most bizarre errors are beginning to repeat themselves - even the narrator's observing something and describing it as "imperceptible" (not "nearly imperceptible," but actually incapable of being perceived) only repeats a malapropism I'd seen before.

So, fuck it, instead I'm going to give you a list of obscure foreign (to me) books, mostly in translation and hard to find outside of a university library, that I did enjoy and find entertaining. Here you are:

Zenzele, Nozipo Maraire (Zimbabwe)

The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years and Jamilia, Chingiz Aitmatov (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, respectively)

Four Reigns, Kukrit Pramoj (Thailand)

I Do Not Come to You By Chance, Adaobi Nwaubani (Nigeria)

Ports of Call, Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)

Fiela's Child, Dalene Matthee (South Africa)

Miss Chopsticks, Xinran (China)