As Long as Trees Take Root in the Earth
Forthcoming in August 2021
These compelling poems by novelist and essayist Alain Mabanckou conjure nostalgia for an African childhood where the fauna, flora, sounds, and smells evoke snapshots of a life forever gone. Mabanckou’s poetry is frank and forthright, urging his compatriots to no longer be held hostage by the civil wars and political upheavals that have ravaged their country and to embrace a new era of self-determination where the village roosters can sing again.
These music-infused texts, beautifully translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson and supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, appear together in English for the first time. In these pages, Mabanckou pays tribute to his beloved mother, as well as to the regenerative power of nature, and especially of trees, whose roots are a metaphor for the poet’s roots, anchored in the red earth of his birthplace. Mabanckou’s yearning for the land of his ancestors is even more poignant because he has been declared persona non grata in his homeland, now called Congo-Brazzaville, due to his biting criticism of the country’s regime. Despite these barriers, his poetry exudes hope that nature’s resilience will lead humankind on the path to redemption and reconciliation.
Praise for Alain Mabanckou:
‘Africa’s Samuel Beckett . . . one of the continent’s greatest living writers.’―Guardian
‘His voice is vividly colloquial, mischievous and . . . outrageous.’—Marina Warner, Man International Booker Prize judge
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