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Dark Heart of the Night [Paperback]

Leonora Miano , Editions Plon , Tamsin Black

List Price: CDN$ 22.95
Price: CDN$ 16.57 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 1 2010 French Voices
What is Africa’s own “heart of darkness”? It is what confronts Ayané when, after three years abroad, she returns to the Central African village of her birth. Now an “outsider” with foreign ways distrusted by her fellow villagers, she must face alone the customs and superstitions that bind this clan of men and women. When invading militia organize a horrific ceremony that they claim will help reunite Africa, Ayané is forced to confront the monstrosity of the act that follows, as well as the responsibility that all the villagers must bear for silently accepting evil done in their name.
 
Through Ayané’s unwilling witness, Léonora Miano probes the themes of submission and responsibility and questions the role of Africans in the suffering of their fellows. Also exploring African identity, Dark Heart of the Night is a profoundly disturbing novel in its evocation of the darkest side of people driven by their instinct to survive.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (April 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803228236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803228238
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.2 x 0.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,248,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for the original French edition (L'Interieur de la nuit) of Dark Heart of the Night: "[Miano] has written a novel that has the powerful dignity of the Greek tragedies." Thierry Gandillot, L'Express "In a style that is beautifully controlled and shows no trace of exoticism, Leonora Miano plunges her readers agonizingly into the mysteries of Africa: rebellions, coups d'etat, archaic sacrifices, and battles between clans. Her observations are merciless and uncompromising." Josyane Savigneau, Le Monde des Livres "Avoiding the fine talking of humanitarians and self-satisfied claptrap of nationalist Africans, [Miano] takes readers on an unforgettable journey to the heart of the shadows." Marie Claire

About the Author

Léonora Miano was born in Cameroon in 1973 and lived there until moving to France in 1991. She has published three novels including L’interieur de la nuit. In 2006 she received the Montalembert Prize for a first novel by a female writer. Tamsin Black has translated Pascale Kramer’s The Living and Marie NDiaye’s Rosie Carpe, both available in Bison Books editions.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars misleading foreword for a beautiful book March 14 2010
By S. P. YOASSI - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book in 2005 from its original french version L'Interieur de la nuit" and I am really sad to see that the translation of the book does not give the full potential of its content.
First the foreword is a misleading PR operation to readers. There are bunch of lies in there about the author Leonora Miano Leaving her country to France. the reasons given in there are wrong. Secondly, this book is not a sociological study or data collection about any country, it is not about Cameroon as pretended in the foreword "As a critique of Cameroon's current dilemma, Dark Heart ofthe Night is unflinchingly apt". NO, no no, this is not about Cameroon. What happen in this book could have happen in Kosovo, Serbia, somewhere in South America in one of the many conflicts going on there too. There is an African back ground because the author is African yes but it is not about Cameroon nor any specific country named of Africa or anywhere else. There is no name as such mentionned in the whole book. I wonder what is fiction for some and why in order to talk about Africa and make money, people have to go this LOW.
I found despicable that someone would make such a strong case about something they have no information to back up their claims. Depicting Cameroon as the country that "has the worst human rights record of any country in Africa,which is quite an accomplishment, considering the competition". While things are not all rosy in Cameroon, I remind readers that there is no war or genocide in Cameroon since independence. I believe the lady who wrote this comments has never travel to Africa, or to Cameroon. But let's not make it about her but what she said. She is misleading people and she never contacted the Author of the book before at least to have her OK before publishing such lies. Therefore, the US translation of this book is just another way people can make stereotype about a country, a region and its people. I love the original version, I met with the author several times, the content is fantastic but again the foreword in this translation is despicable.
Now I would like to hear from readers, those of you who have read the book in its french original version or the English version, we will forget the foreword knowing what we know now and focus on the content of the book, the story itself.Please share your thoughts, I love the story, very dramatic. It's all about humanity, people's life, working women,traditions, children, scapegoating, useless men, but foremost it's about how some people conceive, live their live and die unaware of what we take for granted, life, goods, capital, cars, towers, cities, globalization, first world, second or 3rd world.
Please read the book and share your thoughts.
4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing but valuable novel about the responsibility of the individual and society in the face of evil Aug. 20 2013
By Darryl R. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
'From her point of view, the Africans' whole life was spent escaping death. They did not even seem aware that it surrounded them. It ran in rivers seething with worms that covered the children's skin in ulcers. It was in the water they drank, in the pools stagnating outside their huts, sending clouds of mosquitoes to cover the world at nightfall. Death was everywhere in the filthy poverty of Africa. Death was everywhere in the ignorance of peoples, and death was in the traditions; it was in these necrophiliac customs that often involved keeping dead people's skulls; in the witchcraft they practiced when potions would be concocted from crushed human bones or innards; in certain rituals that were liable to end in bloodbaths, and no one was unduly bothered when a woman died because she was not tough enough to restrain the flow of blood she lost at her excision. Death had made Africa its dominion.'

This harrowing novel is set in an isolated Central African village, whose people have steadfastly maintained traditional roles and values that are not shared by the residents of neighboring towns and cities. Although Ayané was born there, after her father married a woman from another town and brought her to live with him there, she and her mother are viewed as troublesome outsiders, particularly after her father's death. Instead of staying in the village, Ayané left as a young girl to attend university, then moved to France to pursue a career and a better life. After several years abroad she has returned to the village, as her mother is in poor health, but she immediately antagonizes and angers the village elders due to her thoughtlessness and refusal to accept their mores.

The unnamed country is in a state of crisis, as militants roam the countryside and terrorize soldiers, government officials and ordinary citizens. While Ayané cares for her dying mother the villagers sense a malignant presence in the surrounding jungle, just out of eyesight. Within days they are set upon by a small band of armed men, who are fueled by drugs and their leaders' desire to unite their countrymen in their nationalist fervor. The militants propose a horrific ritual to ensure their solidarity, and after several villagers are openly murdered the remaining villagers, including the elders, passively accept and actively participate in the ceremony, in order to save their own lives. Ayané observes these events hidden from everyone, and after the militants take their leave she openly challenges the village elders for allowing such a thing to happen without protesting or fighting back, and she questions her own responsibility in silently accepting these monstrous acts without trying to save any of its victims.

<i>Dark Heart of the Night</i>, whose English title is a grievous translation of the book's original title <i>L'intérieur de la nuit</i>, is a disturbing look into the roles and responsibilities Africans have and must face when evil befalls them, their towns and their countries. She powerfully demonstrates the tragic effects that result when individuals act on their instinct to survive, instead of standing in opposition to those who torment their friends and neighbors. This was a difficult book to read, as Miano does not shy away from any of the gruesome details of the militants' and villagers' actions, but it is an unforgettable and necessary contribution to African literature, which applies beyond that continent as well.
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