Abandoned Baobab: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman (Caraf Books) (Paperback)

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Abandoned Baobab: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman (Caraf Books) By Ken Bugul, Marjolijn de Jager (Translator), Jeanne Garane (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Ken Bugul, Marjolijn de Jager (Translator), Jeanne Garane (Afterword by)
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Staff Reviews

Thanks to Seattle University's Global African Studies program, which brought renowned Senegalese author Ken Bugul (pen name for Marietou M'Baye), to Seattle in spring 2017, we were able to host a memorably wonderful reading with this dynamic writer and prominent Francophone African literary figure. Published over thirty years ago, this is still the only work of Ms. Bugul's translated to date - a powerful, first-of-its-kind memoir, especially for having been written thirty years ago, that wrestles with colonial injustice and gender inequalities.

— From Rick


"This is a beautiful, tragic book.... We should be grateful that Ken Bugul found her way back at last to Africa and that she created this searing document as testimony of her suffering."- Booklist "A wise, lyrical account, superbly translated."- Publishers Weekly The subject of intense admiration--and not a little shock, when it was first published-- The Abandoned Baobab has consistently captivated readers ever since. The book has been translated into numerous languages and was chosen by QBR Black Book Review as one of Africa's 100 best books of the twentieth century. No African woman had ever been so frank, in an autobiography, or written so poignantly, about the intimate details of her life--a distinction that, more than two decades later, still holds true. Abandoned by her mother and sent to live with relatives in Dakar, the author tells of being educated in the French colonial school system, where she comes gradually to feel alienated from her family and Muslim upbringing, growing enamored with the West. Academic success gives her the opportunity to study in Belgium, which she looks upon as a "promised land." There she is objectified as an exotic creature, however, and she descends into promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse, and, eventually, prostitution. (It was out of concern on her editor's part about her candor that the author used the pseudonym Ken Bugul, the Wolof phrase for "the person no one wants.") Her return to Senegal, which concludes the book, presents her with a past she cannot reenter, a painful but necessary realization as she begins to create a new life there. As Norman Rush wrote in the New York Times Book Review, "One comes away from The Abandoned Baobab reluctant to take leave of a brave, sympathetic, and resilient woman." Despite its unflinching look at our darkest impulses, and at the stark facts of being a colonized African, the book is ultimately inspirational, for it exposes us to a remarkable sensibility and a hard-won understanding of one's place in the world.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780813927374
ISBN-10: 0813927374
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication Date: April 1st, 2008
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Caraf Books