Onyekachi Wambu (ed.)

Foreword by John Githongo

book contributors

Chinua Achebe, Taddy Blecher, Jean Bosco Butera, Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Martha Chinouya, Chinweizu, Eva Dadrian, Wangui wa Goro, William Gumede, Parselelo Kantai, Susan and Juliet Kiguli, Ali A. Mazrui, Kimani Ngoju, Ndidi Nwuneli, Marianna Ofosu, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza. Onyekachi Wambu provides an introduction and a chapter on Africa and China.

book info

In this collection of thought-provoking essays, Onyekachi Wambu and 18 distinguished thinkers and leaders reflect on the failure of leadership at all levels in large parts of the continent, and propose positive solutions to inspire a new generation of African leaders. Effective and inspiring leadership at all levels is increasingly recognised to be the key to positive social and political change. Under the Tree of Talking testifies to hope on the horizon for African societies.

press reviews

LORD LUCE – A very remarkable book [which] gives African views rather than European views on how they can and want to best solve their problems.

The Rt Hon. NEIL KINNOCK – I firmly recommend this strong volume of essays by a wide range of African writers - some are very established authors like Ali Mazrui and Chinua Achebe and others are new young voices. Two features of this book make it truly different and important: first, the theme of leadership which it addresses is a vital consideration for African development that is led by Africans. Second, it is a book about Africa which – unlike most books about the continent - is written by Africans. A bit like a poem, it examines leadership: from the beginning; from the top down; from the bottom up; from the present to the future; from the outside looking in; from the inside looking out. All of those characteristics make this collection of essays a rare and significant achievement. So if you take this book, if you absorb what it says, you will join me, I'm sure, in being enlightened and encouraged by the candour, constructiveness and courage of the authors. 'Under the tree of talking' there is knowledge and wisdom to be found.

DIRAN ADEBAYO – A must-read for all those, global Africans and others, who care about the continent's future. Wambu has assembled a great heavyweight cast to shed light on a matter that probably more than any other has affected Africa's fortunes these last 50 years: leadership.

Counterpoint/British Council – WEL (hardback, paperback, anthology, electronic) ; BookBlast Ltd - All other rights. Non fiction. September 2007 paperback original 292 pages £11.99 ISBN 0 86355 586 1 | Buy from amazon.co.uk



Awards: Prix Malek Haddad–Fondation Nourredine Aba ; Prix France-Maghreb Afrique-Méditerranée ; Prix Radio-Beur ; Inaugural 3AM Good Sex Prize 2004.

press reviews

TANIA GLYDE, TIME OUT (Book of the Week) – The Demented Dance (La Noce des Fous) was first published in 1990, predating Irvine Welsh and the 'keeping it real' writing boom that came after. Tarik, an Algerian boy from a shantytown in the Parisian suburbs, watches helplessly as his unemployed alcoholic father declines into madness. When Tarik is taken into care, he learns to hustle. After being implicated in a murder, he is sent to borstal, and then descends through thieving and prostitution to tragedy. It's easy for the comfortable reader to make a fetish of others' deprivation, but this book demands more from its audience. What elevates The Demented Dance above similar stories is the interior life of the narrator. Even as he is written off by his teachers, Tarik remains aware of his own oblivion, thereby keeping himself alive. And the ending is a shock, an undeserved but somehow inevitable fate. Mounsi, 'the Hubert Selby Jnr of contemporary French writing', has won many prizes in France, and first appeared in English in the ground- breaking XCiTés anthology of new French writing in 1999. Born in Algeria, he moved to Nanterre aged seven, where he fell quickly into 'the life'. For reference, think La Haine; think the Cités – the concrete Parisian suburbs we only hear about when there's rioting. Nowadays it's hard to refer to anyone as an 'outsider' without instantly reducing their difference to a brand. So check out Mounsi's writing for yourself: it's a true lesson in walking in another's shoes.

HARRIETT GILBERT, BBC WORLD SERVICE – Mounsi is an extraordinary French novelist whose life was completely turned round by a book [Villon's The Ballad of the Hanged Man] when he was in prison as a teenager ... In his novel The Demented Dance, Mounsi uses almost mythic language, imagery and rhythms to tell the essentially brutal story of young Tarik struggling to survive among the ugly shantytowns, immigrant outskirts, wasteland and tower blocks that circle the Paris of tourist brochures ... One thing which is very striking about his writing is that he doesn't write in Berber, his mother tongue, or in the French slang of the streets like so many other Maghrebi writers, but in a very pure, very correct, very elegant, one almost might say stately French ... The hero of the novel, Tarik, when he is just 13, is a thief, is violent, has been implicated in a murder, and Mounsi persuades us that it is inevitable, given the life he has had, that he would go to the bad ... This poor chldhood of Tarik's is one in which he finds his values are the opposite to those of the majority culture.

SUNDAY GLASGOW HERALD – Mounsi’s tale of losing his immigrant father to poverty and alcoholism rings with a sense of truth and a lack of self-consciousness.

PUBLISHING NEWS – A sort of Algerian Trainspotting.

book info

BlackAmber/Arcadia, London – UK & Commonwealth ; Editions de l'Aube – French language ; BookBlast Ltd – All other rights.
Fiction. 2003 PB original BlackAmber/Arcadia 224pp £7.99 ISBN 1-901969-16-9 Translated by Lulu Norman.

This book is supported by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as part of the Burgess Programme headed for the French Embassy in London by the Institut Français du Royaume Uni | Buy from amazon.co.uk


Georgia de Chamberet (ed.)

Contributors: Frédéric Beigbeder, Tonino Benacquista, Marcel Desailly, Agnès Desarthe, Virginie Despentes, Marie Desplechin, Ilan Duran Cohen, Michel Houellebecq, Mathieu Kassovitz, Mounsi, Abdourahman Waberi...
Translators: Boris Belay, Steve Cox, Michael Dash, Christine Donougher, Paul Hammond, Will Hobson, Ruth McConnel,William Rodarmor, Brad Rumph, Ros Schwartz.

press reviews

STRAIGHT NO CHASER – The perfect Eurostar read.

SUNDAY GLASGOW HERALD – French writing in translation by a new generation which aims to smash the sterotypes.

THE GUARDIAN – XCiTés bristles with aggression and energy … speed art.

THE FACE – A collection of short stories by French writers exposing their country as a hotbed of sexual adventure, racial tension and club bedlam. Frédéric Beigbeder's Trashed sees lives saved in a chic Parisian club; Virginie Despentes screws bald men in Fuck Me; and in Haiku Marie Desplechin exposes phoney liberalism on a blind date with a black man. Extracts from Michel Houellebecq's novel Whatever and the screenplay to La Haine lend gritty gravitas.

MARIE-CLAIRE (AUSTRALIA) – A sizzling anthology of new French voices expertly translated ... XCiTés is a breath of fresh air in the stuffy lungs of French literary culture. Expect the unexpected and you'll be halfway there.

AMAZON.CO.UK – This comes as a shock: the diversity of Georgia de Chamberet's much-needed collection reflects modern French life, multicultural, iconoclastic, energetically variegated, shot through with attitudes of resistance and rebellion. The witty angst of Desplechin and Desarthe, the virtuoso misanthropy of Houellebecq, the brutal vivacity of Despentes - these, among others, demonstrate the range and vitality of current French writing.

INDEPENDENT – French society is diverse, richly multi-cultural - and the writing in this collection represents some of that diversity. If a writer is clearly wonderful - Waberi (originally from Djibouti) or Mounsi (Algerian) - then we want more. The last three inclusions - scenes from Mathieu Kassovitz's film La Haine, a piece on the house music scene by DJ Tov and an interview with Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly illustrate the point of this kind of new fiction which is to question traditional modes of publishing. The French are tired of their image.

book info

Harpercollins publishers, London –S World English Language. Distributed in the USA by Trafalgar Square
Literature & fiction. Trade PB 1999 Flamingo, Harpercollins £11.99 ISBN 0002259397 PB 2000 Flamingo, Harpercollins £7.99 ISBN 0006551912 288pp | Buy from amazon.co.uk