“Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote” by Ahmadou Kourouma

Waiting for the Wild BeastsAhmadou Kourouma was undoubtedly one of the finest African novelists of the twentieth century and – to my mind – En Attendant le vote des bêtes sauvages is his masterpiece. It is a tale told by a modern-day Homer sitting at the feet of his Odysseus. The tale itself – part magic, part history, part savage satire – is nothing less than the history of post-colonial Africa itself. a tapestry of history, magic and horror. There is humour too, and the reality of magic in the African consciousness lends the whole a mystical feel. Kourouma tells terrible and wonderful tales of the brutal naivety of colonialism, the horror of tyranny and the hopes of peoples. It reads like the most achingly beautiful of fairy tales. It is a sad shock to know that, in its way, it is all true.

 

Praise for “Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote”

A brilliant, often hilarious, political satire… Le Nouvel Observateur describes Ahmadou Kourouma…as a reincarnation of Voltaire… the comparison is well-founded. The dictator’s corruption is lambasted with broad, sweeping strokes, physical violence is portrayed with comic detachment: and the ironic, often earthly interjections of Tiecura, the narrator’s apprentice, are reminiscent of Candide.’
The Telegraph

‘This witty and wholly authentic chronicle of black African atrocity mockingly presents itself as a tribute to home-grown dictators, mainly of the francophone variety. First published in France in 1998, where it became a bestseller, and here excellently translated by Frank Wynne, Kourouma’s cynical tale of megalomania and corruption brings to mind the stylistic intensity of Wole Soyinka … Kourouma has justly been likened to Voltaire by Le Nouvel Observateur. Gabriel Garcia Marquez also comes to mind, likewise John Updike’s sparkling ventriloquism and sardonic erudition …
The Spectator

“Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote is at times riotously funny, and its satire is rarely less than effective. (…) What saves this book from becoming an exercise in popular historicisim is its abrupt yet frequently wonderful use of language. ”
Times Literary Supplement

‘Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote comes garlanded with prizes from 1998 publication in France, with reviewers likening Kourouma to Voltaire… All in all, this is a tour de force – original, irreverent, brutal, funny, poetic – in which history and myth are brilliantly evoked. Kourouma draws vividly on the logic, imagery and speech rhythms of the Malinke people. Frank Wynne’s translation is largely equal to the challenge… ‘
The Independent

‘a brutal and fascinating work’
The Times

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