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A different kind of case...,
This review is from: La malédiction du Lamantin (Mass Market Paperback)Moussa Konaté is a Mali writer of many talents, one of the most important authors of today in his homeland. In addition to studies on social and political topics he embarked on a career as playwright and fiction writer back in the 1980s. Increasingly popular has been his series of detective stories, centred on Habib Keita as the gentle, open-minded chief of the criminal police investigation department. His young side-kick, the enthusiastic inspector Issa is known for often acting before reflecting... but sometimes that is just what is needed to take a creative approach to a case that seems bogged down in mystery and mythology...
La malédiction du Lamantin (The Curse of the Manatee) is the most recent of Konaté's novels. Like in his previous detective novels, the author's easygoing and fluid storytelling combines an intriguing case of murder with an introduction to the culture and mythology of one of Mali's ethnic groups of Mali, in this case the Bozo, the fisher people. They lead a seasonally precarious existence along - and on islands in - the Niger river which regularly rises above its banks. The Manatee is a mythical figure in the Bozo belief system and in the novel it plays a special role... Chief Habib needs all his sensitivity and knowledge to cut through a web of stories presented by the affected parties.
While spending time in Mali recently I enjoyed three of Konaté's novels. "l'empreinte du renard ; meurtres en pays Dogon" (the fox's footprint; murder in Dogon land) opens a window into Dogon culture, whereas the earlier "L'honneur des Keita" addresses the complexities of Mandinke honour system. While clearly fiction, all three novels open a door into an intriguing world that continues today to be very different from ours. The interested observer can recognize long-established thinking and parallels in societal behaviour steeped in tradition. As police procedural or detective stories alone, the three novels don't stand out particularly, however in terms of setting cultural scenes and depiction of landscapes and environments, they remind me of the Georges Simenon African 'romans durs', in particular his "Tropic Moon (New York Review Books Classics)". Unfortunately, Konaté has not yet been translated into English. [Friederike Knabe]
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Initial post: Dec 31, 2011 5:19:28 PM PST
Friederike, A helpful recommendation from you, and one that I propose to bring to the attention of Michael Ten-Pow of Guyana, a highly sophisticated man and translator at the UN. I believe he would do justice to Konate's 'Malediction', and I plan to ask another friend shortly whether her travels have also taken her to Mali over the years. In the meantime, the photograph of the young brothers as shown in your profile is charming. Agnes
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2011 6:06:22 PM PST
Friederike Knabe says:
Thanks, Agnes. One thing, among many, i learned is that there is little interest in defining family or close friend relationship, such as nephew... 'brother', 'sister', big, small, etc. is what counts. It can be very confusing when investigating a murder... or clarifying relationships. My Mali brother explained it to me and then it became very pertinent in the novel. Friederike
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2011 6:37:18 PM PST
Friederike, I believe I understand what you have to say because Fa's family is so extensive and complex that I am never able to keep up with her, and at times, she sounds surprised when I am unable to remember which relative she is discussing. There is a large family group here as well in the US. Fa was brought up by her mother and an aunt, there are numerous half-siblings, sisters and brothers, nephews, cousins, little ones, etc. Fa has a dream, a goal, to build a modern village for her numerous relatives in Senegal, and has started mapping out plans for the above. In the meantime, her description of how she and her husband, their three grown daughters and two sons here were going to be received by their family in Senegal on their visit home now, and the next three weeks while highly celebratory, sound overwhelming. All to say, other friends and I are to expect some videos and photos of her visit on her return next month to New York. I can imagine that when it comes to such crime novels as written by Konate, that the authorities have their work cut out for them. Agnes
Posted on Jan 1, 2012 12:41:09 AM PST
mais non, not un autre cop series, what are you doing to ma serenity, Madame!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 3:33:02 AM PST
Friederike Knabe says:
H - no need to put this on your urgent pile unless you plan a visit to the Bozo in Mopti or Bamako... now the one with the fox and the Dogons... will post a short review later. F.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 4:15:08 AM PST
but, sir, you forget how popular are the Alexander McCall Smith detective stories, author from Zimbabwe and publisher of The Criminal Law of Botswana. All to say, l'un d'empeche pas l'autre. AG
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 11:23:19 AM PST
Heard of that, jamais tried it. H
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 12:30:22 PM PST
It seems to have opened les ponts for Americans to take an interest in African literature...H, you might even begin to find crime fiction can be amusing at times. AG
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 12:43:16 PM PST
Agnes, I am the Methusalem of crime fiction reading, have done little else since 1960! H
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 12:51:27 PM PST
Helmut, it's the new year and you may be pleasantly surprised. Professor McCall may be holding a delightful criminal card up his sleeve. AG
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