3 January 08 | Chad W. Post

Laila Lalami has two new posts up at Words Without Borders for the December discussion of Camara Laye’s The Radiance of the King.

In the first, she discussing the literary influences in the book, in which she points to Kafka as a huge force on the novel. The most interesting part to me—but I’m a sucker for literary lore and debate—is the bit questioning the authorship of the novel:

As I mentioned in my introduction, the publication of The Radiance of the King barely a year after The Dark Child, the differences in genres between the two books, and the slightly more existential quality of the second novel, have given rise to some questions as to whether Camara really wrote that second book. These rumors appear to be based on allegations by a Belgian critic named Lilyan Kesteloot in a work that was published after Camara’s death, and against which he could no longer defend himself. These allegations were later investigated by an American academic, Adele King, who also had to rely on second-hand accounts and hearsay, and who also cast strong doubts on the authorship of the novel.

The final post focuses on Toni Morrison’s intro to the novel, and the claim that Laye turned the typical “white man venturing into Africa” idea on its head.

It might be a bit late to join this discussion, but the January edition of the Words Without Borders/Reading the World book club should be pretty interesting. Throughout the month James Marcus and Cynthia Haven will be discussing Collected Poems by Zbigniew Herbert (translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles). As soon as the first post goes up, I’ll be sure to mention it here.


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