Two Masterpieces in the Running!
What excitement in the Francophone literary world! Novels often serve as the most vibrant witnesses of our time, and this year, two gems from Présence Africaine Editions stand out in the final selection of the prestigious Prix des 5 Continents de la Francophonie. They are Rives d’où je vous veille by Jean-Baptiste Lanne and Evocation d’un mémorial à Venise by Khalid Lyamlahy.
Evocation d’un mémorial à Venise by Khalid Lyamlahy is a subtle and moving work that takes as its starting point the story of Pateh Sabally, a Gambian refugee who drowned in the Grand Canal in Venice in January 2017. The narrator, a Moroccan writer deeply affected by Pateh’s death, travels to Venice years later to understand the reasons behind this tragic event. Alternating between the narrator’s quest and the reconstitution of Pateh’s youth in Gambia, the novel explores the themes of the migration crisis, human dignity, and pays tribute to migrants who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Khalid Lyamlahy, in addition to addressing the challenges faced by artists in creating memorials for deceased migrants, shares his experience as a Moroccan writer and underscores the importance of giving a voice to marginalized people.
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Rives d’où je vous veille by Jean-Baptiste Lanne, on the other hand, transports readers to the streets of Nairobi, where Gabriel, returning after four years, encounters two women with devouring ambitions, Mbonoko and Nancy Gloria. Through interviews that take unexpected turns, the novel unveils a hallucinated city, the city of the oppressed and of wonder, whose history has never been seriously considered.
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The selection of these two masterpieces from among the 226 received works attests to the richness and vitality of the French language in translating the pulsations of societies past and present. Reading committees salute the authors’ ability to subtly weave cultures together.
A hearty congratulations to Présence Africaine Editions for championing these insightful works!
The suspense remains as to the winner of the Prix des 5 Continents de la Francophonie, to be revealed in February 2024. The award ceremony, scheduled for March 2024, on the sidelines of the International Day of Francophonie, promises a highlight in the literary world. The International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) will then take over to promote the winner on the international literary stage throughout the year.
These two captivating novels testify to the power of literature to transcend borders and give voice to often overlooked realities. In a time when the challenges of migration and cultural diversity are at the heart of global debates, these works offer a poignant look into our complex and diverse world. Let’s stay tuned for the winner’s revelation, ready to celebrate the diversity and richness of literary Francophonie.