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Life and a Half: A Novel Paperback – Dec 29 2010
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"Life and a Half is a place and a time of half-death―or, if one prefers, half-life. It is a place where life and death are so entangled that it is no longer possible to distinguish them, or to say what is on the side of the shadow or its obverse." ―Achille Mbembe
"[T]he novel's treatment of the themes of oppression and resistance is universal enough to find echoes throughout the developing world, not just Africa, and the book is as relevant today as it was when originally published." ―Choice
"... a useful reminder of the greater depth of the African canon, and of the literary gems to be found in francophone Africa.... Sony Labou Tansi's Life and a Half seethes with the violence and disappointment of the turbulent post-independence period in his native Congo.... The relentless satire is so angry, and so startling it is not always easy to read―but as his great Congolese successor Alain Mabanckou has written, Life and a Half was one of the 'founders of the new francophone literature'." ―The Times Literary Supplement
"Sony's writing is vivid and inventive... It makes for a powerful and often fascinating if also often frustrating read." ―The Complete Review
About the Author
Sony Labou Tansi (1947–1995) was a Congolese novelist, playwright, and poet whose groundbreaking work transformed postcolonial francophone African literature.
Alison Dundy translates from French and Italian. She specializes in literature, social sciences, and art.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I read "La vie et demie" (i.e., this book, in French) as required reading in a African literature class in Senegal when I was studying abroad there. When I came home, I wanted to recommend it to all my friends, but it wasn't available in English... until now!
"Life and a Half" tells a story so full of bizarre twists that it is a bit bewildering, but its style is so beautiful that each twist is fascinating in itself, even if you haven't yet fully grasped its significance.
This book is in the genre of magical realism, reminiscent of works by authors like Marquez, Bulgakov or Vonnegut, and like those authors he uses this escape from reality to create deeply emotional imagery. This approach allows poignant political criticism (a hallmark of all of these authors) to be wrapped in a story so intensely human that it transcends the culture and political circumstance in which it was written, even while clearly being very much OF that culture and place in history at the same time.