July 23: In the Company of Men by Véronique Tadjo
July 23, Saturday
12pm New York | 4pm Abidjan | 6pm Paris
Friendly discussion about the novel, In the Company of Men. The writer Véronique Tadjo will join us for the final half hour to chat with participants. Published by the Other Press.
Discussion hosted by Bhakti Shringarpure.
a. Get yourself a copy of the book! (Click here to purchase the book online)
b. Read the book before the meeting! (No one is checking if you've finished the book, but you will get the most out of the club and the chat with the author if you read ahead.)
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About the book
Winner of the LA Times Book Prize in Fiction, 2022.
Translated by the author in collaboration with John Cullen.
Drawing on real accounts of the Ebola outbreak that devastated West Africa, this poignant, timely fable reflects on both the strength and the fragility of life and humanity’s place in the world.
Two boys venture from their village to hunt in a nearby forest, where they shoot down bats with glee, and cook their prey over an open fire. Within a month, they are dead, bodies ravaged by an insidious disease that neither the local healer’s potions nor the medical team’s treatments could cure. Compounding the family’s grief, experts warn against touching the sick. But this caution comes too late: the virus spreads rapidly, and the boys’ father is barely able to send his eldest daughter away for a chance at survival.
In a series of moving snapshots, Véronique Tadjo illustrates the terrible extent of the Ebola epidemic, through the eyes of those affected in myriad ways: the doctor who tirelessly treats patients day after day in a sweltering tent, protected from the virus only by a plastic suit; the student who volunteers to work as a gravedigger while universities are closed, helping the teams overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies; the grandmother who agrees to take in an orphaned boy cast out of his village for fear of infection. And watching over them all is the ancient and wise Baobab tree, mourning the dire state of the earth yet providing a sense of hope for the future.
Acutely relevant to our times in light of the coronavirus pandemic, In the Company of Men explores critical questions about how we cope with a global crisis and how we can combat fear and prejudice.
About the author
Véronique Tadjo is a poet, novelist, academic, and artist from Côte d’Ivoire. She earned a doctorate in Black American Literature and Civilization from the Sorbonne, Paris IV, and went to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at Howard University in Washington, DC. She headed the French Department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg until 2015. Her books have been translated into several languages, from The Blind Kingdom (1991) to The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda (2001) and Queen Pokou: Concerto for a Sacrifice (2005), which was awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature d’Afrique Noire in 2005.
About the host
Bhakti Shringarpure is a writer, editor and educator. She is the Creative Director of the Radical Books Collective.
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