Around the World for a Good Book selection for Djibouti.
Author: Abdourahman A. Waberi
Title: In the United States of Africa
Translator: David Ball, Nicole Ball
Publication Info: Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2009.
This novel is set in an alternate universe where Africa, unified as a single nation, is prosperous and has colonized the rest of the world. White people try to escape poverty and war as refugees to Africa. One could put together a concordance as long as the book to all the references of things in this topsy turvy world that are allusions to our world. After a few pages of this it moves beyond satire and feels more like the author trying to demonstrate his cleverness.
Unfortunately, the plot and characterization is pretty thin. The main character is Malaïka (aka Maya), a child born in France but adopted by an African doctor. The story follows her life and her journey as an adult to return to France and meet her birth mother. To add to the overall experimental style of the novel, it is written by an unnamed narrator addressing Maya.
This novel is short but a complicated read. I’m sure there’s a lot of good stuff that just went over my head.