Calixthe Beyala: Performances of Migration (Contemporary by Nicki Hitchcott

By Nicki Hitchcott

The main winning girl author from Francophone Africa, Calixthe Beyala occupies an strange position in French literary and pop culture. Her novels are bestsellers and she or he looks on a regular basis on French tv, but a conviction for plagiarism has tarnished her acceptance. therefore, she is either an “authentic” African writer and a confirmed literary “fake.” In Calixthe Beyala, Nicki Hitchcott considers representations of Beyala within the media, serious responses to her writing, and Beyala’s efforts to put herself as a champion of women’s rights. Hitchcott can pay equivalent realization to Beyala’s novels, tracing their explorations of the position of migration within the construction of non-public id.

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3)]. Portraits of squalor continue throughout Beyala’s fiction: in her more recent novel, Femme nue, femme noire, she describes people defecating in the street and children taking dead rats home for dinner. The shocking realities of poverty and disease are never ignored, even when Africa is re-viewed from the comfort of exile: ‘Lasse et cendreuse, je [Assèze] pensais à cette vie en dégénérescence qui continuait en Afrique. La lutte pour la survie: la faim, la soif, la rougeole, le paludisme, le Sida, qui tuaient sans ordre de grandeur’ [Weary and ashen, I [Assèze] thought about this degenerating life which continued in Africa.

8 In fact, the first and second images are closely linked since the discourse of what Jules-Rosette calls ‘scientific Africa’ often promotes a vision of Africa as ‘natural or untouched’, uncontaminated by ‘civilization’ which, for many, is synonymous with Western culture. This chapter takes as its starting point the discourse of ‘scientific Africa’; in other words, images that recall the exoticist representations of the so-called ‘primitive’ continent made by ethnologists such as Marcel Griaule and the founders of the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris.

Here I would suggest that Beyala is demonstrating the way in which young boys have already been indoctrinated into seeing girls as objects to be manipulated (‘pétrir’), attacked (‘investir’) and overcome (‘dévorer’). indd 28 27/9/06 12:55:06 Calixthe Beyala Incorporated? 48 Ironically, his own interpretation reflects the tendency among critics to (mis)read the sex scenes in Beyala’s fiction as erotic titillation rather than political statements, a tendency encouraged by the book industry’s promotion of Calixthe Beyala as an erotic-exotic object in France.

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