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Leos Carax Retrospective 1328 Montana Avenue Santa Monica, Ca 90403

As Long As Trees Take Root in the Earth

Alain Mabanckou | Translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson

A hopeful, music-infused poetry collection from Congolese poet Alain Mabanckou.

As Long As Trees Take Root in the Earth (University of Chicago Press, 2021) gathers compelling poems by novelist and essayist Alain Mabanckou that conjure nostalgia for an African childhood where the fauna, flora, sounds, and smells evoke snapshots of a life forever gone. Mabanckou’s poetry is frank and forthright, urging his compatriots to no longer be held hostage by the civil wars and political upheavals that have ravaged their country and to embrace a new era of self-determination where the village roosters can sing again.
 
These music-infused texts, beautifully translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson, appear together in English for the first time. In these pages, Mabanckou pays tribute to his beloved mother, as well as to the regenerative power of nature, and especially of trees, whose roots are a metaphor for the poet’s roots, anchored in the red earth of his birthplace. Mabanckou’s yearning for the land of his ancestors is even more poignant because he has been declared persona non grata in his homeland, due to his biting criticism of the country’s regime. Despite these barriers, his poetry exudes hope that nature’s resilience will lead humankind on the path to redemption and reconciliation.


Alain Mabanckou was born in Congo in 1966. An award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, Mabanckou currently lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches literature at UCLA. He is the author of African PsychoBroken GlassBlack Bazaar, and Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty, as well as The Lights of Pointe-NoireBlack Moses, and The Death of Comrade President (The New Press). In 2015, Mabanckou was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize.

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