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--