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In the United States of Africa

Abdourahman A. Waberi | Translated by David Ball & Nicole Ball

In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous United States of Africa. It is in this world that an African doctor on a humanitarian mission to France adopts a child. Now a young artist, this girl, Malaïka, travels to the troubled land of her birth in hope of finding her mother—and perhaps something of her lost self. Her search, at times funny and strange, is also deeply poignant, reminding us at every moment of the turns of fate we call truth. Reviews: 

"The world Waberi creates in his new novel may be entirely driven by the question of "what if", but it has the natural and wonderful effect of making the reader re-examine what is. Waberi's keen powers of empathy, his sharp wisdom and his beautiful prose make him one of the most exciting and original African writers working today."—Laila Lalami, www.TheNational.ae


"This brief, sternly loving book is by turns troubling, exhilarating, frustrating and oddly satisfying. Recommended to all those concerned with the world we live in—and ones we might otherwise live in, as well as people inhabiting both."—Jim Lee, Tales of the Talisman "Djibouti-born Waberi's brief and concentrated tale—part satire, part fable, part fever-dream—imagines the world turned upside down: a war rages between Quebec and the American Midwest, and all of "Euramerica" is a dark, barbaric hellhole. In the United States of Africa, however. . . peace and prosperity reign. . . . It's there that a dreamy, restless young artist named Maya ponders her history. . . . Waberi manages to convince of the power of art and love to heal very real rifts."—Publishers Weekly"Writing in French, Waberi—born in Djibouti, but a longtime resident of France—satirizes commonly-held assumptions about the global political and economic order by imagining what things might be like if Africa were to swap places with the West. . . . In David and Nicole Ball's translation, Waberi's prose reads as both riotously funny and lyrically lush, offering big laughs as well as multifaceted subtleties of expression."—Ryan Michael Williams, PopMatters.com More info