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So Long a Letter (African Writers) [Paperback]

Mariama Ba
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So long a letter is a classic from Africa May 19 2004
By Akanimo
I am a Nigerian American residing in the bay area. In high school, (Obot Idim), I was opportuned to read the novel, "So Long a letter" and was quite reluctant to part with it. Infact, the book was quite a sensation in my dormitory in high school. I just read it again last week and it still remains a classic in my opinion. It is very well written and conveys the emotional trauma of the protagonist, Ramatoulaye. The book essentially tries to depict the double standard in an Islamic faith and it is poignantly and beautiful portrayed in this novel. I highly recommend it, and infact, this novel ranks as one of the best novels that I have read which has inspired me to pen a novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 86 gender it is a great read for anyone April 15 2003
A short and easy read that is incredibly insightful into the psyche of the protagonist. Displays well the troubles of women not only in her position but women in general. Focuses on the gender issue at hand as opposed to the racial one and in doing so makes a statement about the oppression that women have withstood for much longer than the two thousand seasons Ayi Kwei Armah refers to as the period of African oppression. Reads well and is very enlightening to all readers, and especially male. The structure flows well and does not subject itself to a strict ajenda and therefore comes of as very very introspective.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marriage, motherhood, and friendship Jan. 11 2003
"So Long a Letter," by Mariama Ba, is a short novel (only 90 pages), but it is rich in ideas and emotions. According to a note about Ba at the beginning of the book, she was born in the African nation of Senegal and died in 1981. The book has been translated from French by Modupe Bode-Thomas.
This novel is written in the form of a long letter by Ramatoulaye, a Senegalese widow, to her friend Aissatou. Ramatoulaye discusses the lives, marriages and families of both women, and reflects on their friendship. As she writes, the story of her life is fleshed out.
Ba has created a fascinating look at postcolonial life in the former French West Africa. This portrait is decidedly from a woman's perspective and is focused on issues that particularly impact women's lives. Ba explores a multigenerational web that links women and men together.
Ba's subject matter includes motherhood, marriage, religion, education, and politics. Particularly fascinating are her explorations of the role of the "griot" (described in the book's endnotes as "part-poet, part-musician, part-sorcerer") and the practice of cowrie shell divination. A key element in the book is polygamy as practiced in the Muslim African world.
The book deals much with women's relationships--with husbands, with children, with adult female relatives, and with friends. The book is about surviving loss and disappointment; it's also about hope and personal growth...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and interesting... Oct. 14 2001
By A Customer
Senegalese writer Mariama Ba gives insight and commentary on the lives of two female friends in Senegal who take different paths in life when their husbands decide to take another wife. I bought this book before going to Senegal and found it insightful and an interesting read. While it is a good book, I thought Sembene Ousmane's "Xale" (with its similar theme of a polygamous marriage gone awry) to be the more interesting book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the most beautiful books i've read Dec 26 2000
this book is used by a lot of classes at my school (SUNY Buffalo): world lit, world civilization, etc. It's very short and a terrific book for such purposes. beyond that sort of silly usefulness, this is one of the most beautiful books i've ever read (though another reviewer says the french is better, and that's probably true, but i neither know french nor own the french copy, so if you just want to read the book, it's not such a big deal that it's not in french). bâ's language (in translation) is exquisite, almost slow, and reading it (though it's a quick and easy read) is like being suspended in time, floating down a beautiful river. i mean, she uses words like "pawpaws" (how often do you get to read about pawpaws?) and even her character's name, "Ramatoulaye" is rhythmic. the book pulses slowly, sensually-- an opening phrase "the words create around me a new atmosphere in which i move, a stranger and tormented" is a perfect description of the way the reader encounters the molasses-like (as in, sweet but slow) text.
i am not saying that this book is slow-- indeed, it reads quickly and once one sees how beautiful the words are, it's impossible to put the book down until one finishes it a few hours later. but the _beauty_ of the book is a slow one, the slowness of a hot place, of round fruit, of social change, of reflection--
read it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars bad translation June 23 2000
I found it really difficult to get through this book. The translation was dull as I found the French version to be a bit better. It was an interesting perspective about a group of women you hear little about but the story couldn't hold me in French or English.
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By Elaine
This was a wonderful, short, but beautiful book on the life of an Islamic woman who was a co-wife. It shows what many women have to deal with and the sexism that they may encounter in their lives. I would say it isn't an angry book, nor a sad book, but a book that tells it like it is. It is a must for those interested in the Islamic ways of life.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
In "So Long a Letter" one gets the deep feelings of an African woman, a middle aged Senegalese school teacher called Ramatoulaye. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2005 by Edwin
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read book
"So Long a Letter" reviels the feeling of an African woman which usualy remains a tabu.I believe that all Africans ,men and women,should get the chance to read this book. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2000 by Saba Gebrehiwot
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving story with a universal theme
I was introduced to this book by a friend who said that it changed the direction of her life. Indeed, I can see how anyone with an open mind would find a personal connection with... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional book. It has remained imprinted on my mind
Mariama Ba was absolutely magnificent in this book. The manner of poetic prose she adopts is not only touching but also addictive. I first read this book in High School in Kenya. Read more
Published on June 12 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting look into islamic woman's life and fight
fabulous book, not only beautifully written but also helps to see Islamic women in a new light...
Published on March 17 1999 by Keridwyn (kpixie@yahoo.com)
5.0 out of 5 stars A West African-Senegal Muslim Woman's Life's Story.
So Long A Letter, 90 pages is written journal-style. I was so enthralled with all of the characters'life stories that I wish that I could read the French, orginal version for its... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 1999
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