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The Oldest Orphan Paperback – Mar 1 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (March 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803282850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803282858
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #535,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“A devastatingly moving novel about one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century. That it is an African tragedy and that the author is African makes it all the more important for American readers in these perilous times when national borders grow increasingly fragile. Translated with eloquent grace by Monique Fleury Nagem, this powerful book deserves the widest possible audience.”—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
(Robert Olen Butler)

“The Oldest Orphan effectively describes a country completely undone, trying to cope with the unthinkable and unspeakable. Faustin gets by, more or less, but the advents catch up with him, and in the powerful last scenes they are fully dredged up again, what actually happened to him and his family in those days revealed, well evoked by Monénembo in all its horrible absurdity. . . . Adele King’s brief introduction covers all the basic information readers should be equipped with.”—The Complete Review
(The Complete Review)

“While it is a pleasure to read of a passion as strong as Faustin’s, my favorite note of affirmation in this work comes in a curious passage in which Faustin comments on his love of singing. ‘Singing is done with our whole God-given body; talking is done with the mouth only. It’s better this way—to sing and not to talk.’”—Brad Goins, Laganiappe Magazine
(Brad Goins Laganiappe Magazine)

“Monénembo weaves his story with the ease of a master craftsman. He deftly takes the reader circuitously from beginning to end.”—Connease Warren, Mosaic Literary Magazine
(Connease Wearren Mosaic Literary Magazine)

About the Author

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By bear on June 14 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is beautiful! From such sadness Mr. Monenembo has wrought exquisite humanity. I could not put it down. It is Africa viewed by an African instead of Europeans or Americans. In a compelling fashion Mr. Monenembo focuses not on the politics but on the people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Huck Finn in Rwanda Jan. 14 2005
By Karen K. Lewis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, constructing an elaborate fiction-as Tierno Monénembo does here-reveals an emotional truth deeper than would be possible with any journalistic account. Mr. Monénembo has lived in exile from his native Guinea since 1969, studying in Senegal, Abidjan, and Lyon before settling in Normandy. The Oldest Orphan is his seventh novel, and second of his books to be translated to English.

The narrative is fragmented between flashback and a blur of present tense, where the protagonist Faustin's memory wanders between age 10 and age15. At age 15, Faustin exists in prison, awaiting execution, accused of killing the boy who allegedly raped his sister. Faustin faces heroic challenges with humor, resourcefulness, and remnants of an innocence that has been brutally truncated by genocidal mania. The facts are difficult, and blurred, against the backdrop of social & political upheaval.

This is an important novella concerning the Rwanda genocide of 1994, written by one of the strongest literary voices available in translation from the African continent.