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Francophone novelist Jean-Marie Adiaffi

From an interview with Béa Gallimore, Associate Professor of French

Gallimore’s early research addressed how African Francophone writers subvert the French canon by drawing from their culture’s oral tradition to create different levels of meaning. In Gallimore’s first book, L’oeuvre romanesque de Jean-Marie Adiaffi. Le mariage du mythe et de l’histoire: fondement d’un récit pluriel (1996), Gallimore examines author Jean-Marie Adiaffi, particularly the novel La Carte d’Identité (1995). The main character in the book, who was a prince before colonization, loses his I.D. card. In the system imposed by the colonial French government, the loss of this I.D. card results in the loss of the man’s name and identity, so it becomes an allegory for the impact of colonization on the identity of the colonized.

Francophone author Calixthe Beyala

From an interview with Béa Gallimore, Associate Professor of French

Rangira Béa Gallimore’s second book, L’oeuvre romanesque de Calixthe Beyala: Le renouveau de l’écriture féminine en Afrique francophone sub-saharienne (1997), focuses on contemporary Francophone writer Calixthe Beyala. Whereas her first book subverts “the master’s language” by using the French of the slums (les bidonvilles) instead of classic French, her second book attempts to subvert patriarchy itself. Providing counterpart to male writers “who idealized the African woman as this beautiful symbol of the earth,” Beyala offers main characters who are forced into prostitution because of sexual abuse or poverty. “It’s very clear in her writing that she’s using the female body discourse. The body in writing is exposed, it is displayed,” explains Gallimore, and indeed Beyala’s tendency to address taboo subjects has created controversy. “It was very shocking for an African woman to write such things,” yet women’s bodies in Beyala’s novels stand as a “symbol of the violated earth, of the bad and the evil” that they have had to endure through their bodies. “You cannot deny the reality of Africa,” responds Beyala to her detractors.

Why Gallimore is drawn to Beyala’s novels

From an interview with Béa Gallimore, Associate Professor of French

Gallimore has been drawn to Beyala’s novels because of their powerful realism, which deeply resonates with her own experience of growing up in the Congo. “When I first read her book, I was amazed. I was looking at things I had seen myself. It was a reality in Africa we cannot deny; you maybe don’t want it in writing, but it’s a reality for women. Those are the things women have to endure to survive.”