Author: Abdourahman Waberi
Original publication: 2006
Genre: Fiction, African Literature
My rating: ★★★✩✩
In a text that seems to be a mix between fiction and essay, Abdourahman Waberi depicts a world where Africa is a powerful, rich, united country, while the rest of the world is going havoc because of wars and illnesses. In the midst of this, a young girl, Malaïka, who comes from the French countryside and was adopted by a rich African doctor, is raised as the only white child of the neighborhood. She grew up to become an artist, and tries to go on a trip back to France, to find out her origins, and why her birth mother abandoned her.
The first thing that I wanted to say is that I had to read this book for one of my classes, because the author is actually one of my professors for this semester (I feel so lucky, I wanted to brag about it).
The second things is, I have to admit this book is extremely clever and smart. It is full of witty remarks and comments which I really appreciated. The original idea was a very good one, no one can deny it. (It briefly reminded me of Noughts and Crosses, because it depicts a world where Blacks are in position of power whereas Whites are poor, and it’s the first time I find something like that ever since I read it… Which was ages ago since I was in middle school and am now doing my Master, but anyway, back to the topic.) In the United States of Africa was a beautiful story, however I found it a bit difficult to get into it, as much as I wanted to. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wish I had (and I have to say, it is bothering me a bit).
One thing I really liked, however, is all the little references to our world and our history that were twisted and turned to fit in this fantasy world: that was really brilliant, I was looking for those moments throughout the book.
My biggest regret is probably that I didn’t find the main character really endearing, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.
The narration was at the second person, the narrator directly addressing the girl, Malaïka, at the same time as the reader, and this is a procedure I always find very interesting.
Overall, I find it rather hard to put together my thoughts on this book, but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a diverse read, or a book different from what you usually read and find in bookstores or anywhere on your shelves!
Please leave a comment with your thoughts if you have read this book as well!