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Letter to Jimmy - Édition Soft Skull PressLetter to Jimmy

Édition Soft Skull Press
Parution aux USA en décembre 2014

Written on the twentieth anniversary of James Baldwin’s death, Letter to Jimmy is African writer Alain Mabanckou’s ode to his literary hero and an effort to place Baldwin’s life in context within the greater African diaspora.
Beginning with a chance encounter with a beggar wandering along a Santa Monica beach—a man whose ragged clothes and unsteady gait remind the author of a character out of one of James Baldwin’s novels— Mabanckou uses his own experiences as an African living in the US as a launching pad to take readers on a fascinating tour of James Baldwin’s life. As Mabanckou reads Baldwin’s work, looks at pictures of him through the years, and explores Baldwin’s checkered publishing history, he is always probing for answers about what it must have been like for the young Baldwin to live abroad as an African-American, to write obliquely about his own homosexuality, and to seek out mentors like Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison only to publicly reject them later.
As Mabanckou travels to Paris, reads about French history and engages with contemporary readers, his letters to Baldwin grow more intimate and personal. He speaks to Baldwin as a peer—a writer who paved the way for his own work, and Mabanckou seems to believe, someone who might understand his experiences as an African expatriate.
Alain Mabanckou was born in Congo-Brazzavile in 1966. He is the author of Broken Glass (Soft Skull 2010), Memoirs of a Porcupine (Soft Skull 2006) and African Psycho (Soft Skull 2007) among others. He currently divides his time between Paris and California, where he teaches French Literature at UCLA.

 

 

Biography

Alain Mabanckou - Photo de Caroline BlacheAlain Mabanckou (born 24 February 1966) is a novelist, poet, essayist and academic, a French citizen born in the Republic of the Congo, he is currently a Professor of French Literature and Francophone Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He is best known for his novels and non-fiction writing depicting the experience of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in France. He is among the best known and most successful writers in the French language and one of the best known African writers in France.
Mabanckou dedicated himself increasingly to writing after the publication of his first novel, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (Blue-White-Red), which won him the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire in 1999. Since then he has continued to regularly publish prose and well as poetry. His African Psycho, Le Serpent à Plumes (2003) is a novel written from the point of view of Gregoire Nakobomayo, a fictional African serial killer.
Mabanckou is best known for his fiction, notably Verre Cassé (Broken Glass), a comic novel centered on a Congolese former teacher and life in the bar he now frequents. Verre Cassé has also been the subject of several theatrical adaptations. It was published as Broken Glass, in English translation in 2009.
In 2006 he published Mémoires de porc-épic (Memoirs of a Porcupine), which garnered the Prix Renaudot, one of the highest distinctions in French literature. The book is a magic realism-inspired reworking of a folk tale into a psychological portrait of a young Congolese man's descent into violence.
In 2007, Mabanckou’s early poetry was re-published by Points-Seuil under the title Tant que les arbres s’enracineront dans la terre, as well as a biography of James Baldwin, Lettre à Jimmy, on the twentieth anniversary of Baldwin’s death, translated into English (Letter to Jimmy, Soft Skull Press, 2014).
Mabanckou's work has been published in fifteen languages. African Psycho (2007), Broken Glass (2009), Memoirs of a Porcupine (2011), Black Baazar (2012) Tomorow I will be Twenty (2013), Blue White Red (2013), Letter To Jimmy (2014) and The Lights of Pointe-Noire (2015) have been translated into English.

Bibliography

Books translated into English are in bold:

Novels
1998 : Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (Blue White Red, Idiana University Press)
2001 : Et Dieu seul sait comment je dors, Présence Africaine
2002 : Les Petits-fils nègres de Vercingétorix,Éditions Points-Seuil,
2003 : African Psycho (African Psycho, Serpent's Tail, UK / and Soft Skull Press, USA)
2005 : Verre cassé, Éditions du Seuil, 2006 (Broken Glass, Serpent's Tail UK / and Soft Skull Press, USA)
2006 : Mémoires de porc-épic, Editions du Seuil(Memoirs of a porcupine, Serpent's Tail, UK / and Soft Skull, USA)
2009 : Black Bazar, Éditions du Seuil (Black Bazaar, Serpent's Tail, UK)
2010 : Demain j'aurai vingt ans, Éditions Gallimard, (Tomorrow I'll be Twenty, Serpent's Tail, UK) Preface by the Nobel Prize winner J. M. G. Le Clézio
2012 : Tais-toi et meurs (roman policier), ÉditionsPocket, 2014
2013 : Lumières de Pointe-Noire, Éditions du Seuil, (The Lights of Pointe-Noire, Serpent's Tail, UK )

Poetry
2007 : Tant que les arbres s'enracineront dans la terre, Œuvre poétique complète, « Points », Seuil

Non-fiction
2007 : Lettre à Jimmy, Editions Fayard, (Letter to Jimmy, Soft Skull Press, USA)
2009 : L'Europe depuis l'Afrique, Éditions Naive
2011 : Écrivain et oiseau migrateur, André Versaille éditeur
2012 : Le Sanglot de l'homme noir, Points Seuil, 2013

Anthology
2010 : Six poètes d'Afrique francophone Editions du Seuil
2013 : L'Afrique qui vient, Editions Hoëbeke, 2013

Children Books
2000 : L'Enterrement de ma mère, Editions Kaléidoscope, 2000
2010 : Ma Sœur Étoile, Editions Seuil-Jeunesse, février 2010

Translation Bibliography

2008 : Uzondinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation ; translated into French as "Bêtes sans patrie". Editions de L'Olivier, 2008

 

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