It has become commonplace to note that the global French literary marketplace is dominated by Parisian publishing houses and metropolitan kudos. This study probes the aesthetic and political implications of that assertion by revisiting the history of African literature in post-war France. Extensive archival research is combined with literary analysis to investigate the destabilizing impact of decolonization on legitimate notions of language, authorship and literary value. Mapping connections between institutions such as Présence Africaine, Éditions du Seuil, Gallimard and the Association des écrivains de la mer et de l’outre-mer, the author argues that a contested and variegated African literary presence actively shaped the metropolitan publishing scene during this period of transition. In turn, the material aspects of book production and distribution are shown to be inextricably entangled with ongoing debates over the representation of Africa in words. Authors whose work is considered in detail include Abdoulaye Sadji, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Christine Garnier, Malick Fall, Chinua Achebe and Peter Abrahams. Publishing Africa in French uses an innovative interdisciplinary methodology to contribute fresh insights to current concerns in French studies, African studies, and postcolonial book history.
This is an excellent monograph, which challenges a number of received views and brings a wealth of new evidence into the debates about Francophone post-war literature about Africa. In particular, its mining of a largely untapped archive opens up new directions for research which other scholars will no doubt follow.
David Murphy, Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies
Bush’s study is innovative and lucid in depicting the ‘complex portrait of the French-language publishing scene' (p. 251) in which African letters contributed to shift the ‘Parisian capital of the world republic of letters’ (p. 195).
Alioune Sow, French Studies
Publishing Africa in French provides new perspectives for the study of African literature beyond the Francophone context, and paves the way for scholarship to engage with other lines of research, such as the history of literary reception and the material conditions of educational publishing. More importantly, the volume provides a valuable toolkit for scholars working on Francophone African literature who seek to enlarge, nuance, or counterbalance their understandings of literary texts.
Khalid Lyamlahy, Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation