La couleur de l’écrivain

– Non-Fiction –


Summary: Are you a Black writer?” “Do you define yourself as a universal writer?” “Why write in French rather than in your mother tongue?” “Why not write about your country rather than the rest of the world?”

These questions inaugurate each chapter of La couleur de l’écrivain. Then, through a series of polyphonic responses (via other fictional “mouthpieces”), Sami Tchak develops a double work of poetic creation (one thinks in particular of humorous processes) and sociological analysis. Because it is above all a question of a socio-history of literature, and if the writer delivers symbolic elements of his “geo-biography” from the first chapters, it is precisely symbolic. In the spirit of The Rules of Art (Pierre Bourdieu), The World Republic of Letters (Pascale Casanova), or the work of Nathalie Heinich (On Visibility), Sami Tchak reminds us that for literature to “reach us”, it must be taken up by institutional actors and “instances of consecration and legitimization”. This is about talking about the commercial circulation of books and their material and economic production conditions – otherwise, the writer (even just the writer!) does not exist.

(courtesy of Celia Sadai. Link to the full review here)


Publication: Continents, 2022 (First publication La cheminante, 2014)
Language: French
Rights: World
Genre: Non-Fiction
Extent: 228 p.

Bio: Born in Togo in 1960, Sami Tchak taught philosophy and then studied sociology at the Sorbonne. His research on prostitution led him to Latin America, which serves as the setting for four of his novels. Winner of the Grand Prix d’Afrique noire in 2004 and the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma in 2007, he returned to the African continent in 2011 with Al Capone le Malien, inspired by the famous swindler Donatien Koagné. Also an essayist, Sami Tchak reflects on his journey and his vision of literature in La Couleur de l’écrivain in 2014. After Ainsi parlait mon père in 2018, his latest novel Les Fables du moineau was awarded the Prix de La Renaissance Française, jointly awarded by the Academy of Overseas Sciences.

Rights inquiries: Here

@ Sami Tchak

I am a writer from Togo, and it is not enough to simply identify me as such without placing me in relation to my small village of less than one hundred people – otherwise, the world has no meaning to me. Therefore, I do not identify as a “universal writer” – which, in my opinion, doesn’t really mean much.

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