Monday, March 27, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Jazz and Palm Wine Written by Emmanuel Dongala | Translated and with a foreword by Dominic Thomas

Jazz and Palm Wine:
Written by Emmanuel Dongala | Translated and with a foreword by Dominic Thomas

Jazz, aliens, and witchcraft collide in this collection of short stories by renowned author Emmanuel Dongala. The influence of Kongo culture is tangible throughout, as customary beliefs clash with party conceptions of scientific and rational thought. In the first half of Jazz and Palm Wine, the characters emerge victorious from decades of colonial exploitation in the Congo only to confront the burdensome bureaucracy, oppressive legal systems, and corrupt governments of the post-colonial era. 

The ruling political party attempts to impose order and scientific thinking while the people struggles to deal with drought, infertility, and impossible regulations and policies; both sides mix witchcraft, diplomacy, and violence in their efforts to survive. 
The second half of the book is set in the United States during the turbulent civil rights struggles of the 1960s. In the title story, African and American leaders come together to save the world from extraterrestrials by serving vast quantities of palm wine and playing American jazz. The stories in Jazz and Palm Wine prompt conversations about identity, race, and co-existence, providing contextualization and a historical dimension that is often sorely lacking. Through these collisions and clashes, Dongala suggests a pathway to racial harmony, peaceful co-existence, and individual liberty through artistic creation.
Emmanuel Dongala is Richard B. Fisher Chair in Natural Sciences at Bard College at Simon's Rock. His novels have been awarded the Grand Prix Ladislas Dormandi, the Grand Prix Littéraire d'Afrique Noire, the Charles Oulmont Prize, and the Cezam Literary Prize.

Dominic Thomas is Madeleine L. Letessier Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books include Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa; Black France: Colonialism, Immigration, and Transnationalism; and Africa and France: Postcolonial Cultures, Migration, and Racism.


"Hidden under the apparent farcical naïveté of each story, such as the one in which only the intoxicating powers of palm wine are able to temper the extra-terrestrials that have taken control over the planet, one finds some of the most beautiful words ever written about the dashed hopes of newly independent African states, summoned like a distant echo by the profound tragedy of the genius saxophonist that was Coltrane." —Africultures , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"A major figure in the renewal of African writing." —Etonnants Voyageurs , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"One of the most well-known collections of short stories in francophone Africa. . . . Beyond the political dimension, it is the artist-author's liberty that comes to the surface in the collection and that allows the musicality of language to transcend territorial, ideological and generic borders, all in the relentless pursuit of the absolute." —Virginie Brinker, La Plume Francophone , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"Dongala is a leading voice among African writers." —Passion des livres , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"Dongala is a novelist and short story writer who has written about daily life in Central Africa, the horrors of war, and

Funmi Tofowomo Okelola
-In the absence of greatness, mediocrity thrives. 
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