Introducing a new generation of young Cameroonian writers, this bilingual anthology highlights new directions in the Cameroonian short story, as the stories move from fantasy, existentialism, afrojujuism to realism. An unusual narrator in “Spittle Royale” walks the fine line between empathy, radicalisation and primal instincts; in “Finding Jaman” a correction facility cleaner hoards objects belonging to executed inmates leading to an interesting discovery; in the eponymous title story, lovers reconnect after forty years apart, unearthing secrets that will change their lives forever.
The culmination of two workshops, one on creative writing and the other on literary translation, both followed by a mentorship period, these stories will remain with you long after you’ve finished reading them.
“The stories in this collection are as refreshing as they are novel and exciting. Issues such as disability, religion, love, domestic violence and others are pulled apart and explored with twists that pull you in and make you think about these stories long after you’ve finished reading them.”
“Astounding, powerful and, often, bitter stories, like the pages of a Holy book soaked in water, then gobbled down; sundered into mouthfuls, hard swallows that leave an aftertaste lingering on the tongue long after the meal of ink, paper, and words…”
“This book is an intriguing and beautiful object. Indeed, it is a curious object and one which challenges our sense of space and time; and our presence across cultures and languages. Where does it start and where does it end? The front cover reveals itself to its readers and invites them to open the book, read it, and finish it. But where does it finish: at the end or in the middle? Do we need to start afresh? Turn the book upside down? because now the back cover, suddenly, mirrors the front cover. Is it the front cover? At this point, an old saying springs to mind: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. And its French equivalent: “L’habit ne fait pas le moine”. They say “equivalence” but, in this instance, where is the equivalence? Does the book cloth help us to see the monk’s clothes? This captivating book Your Feet will Lead you Where your Heart is/Le Crépuscule des âmes sœurs – or is it Le Crépuscule des âmes sœurs/ Your Feet will Lead you Where Your Heart is? – will contribute to our understanding of translation as a creative and literary process. Words are not mere vessels. Once filled with empathy – the empathy of the writer, the translator, and their readers in Cameroon and beyond – they create kaleidoscopes of meanings on our hearts and for our souls. This object is perfect because, whilst allowing us to access little-known short stories from Cameroon, it also helps us to appreciate what translation is and is not."
Pierre-Philippe Fraiture is a professor of Francophone literatures at the University of Warwick. His publications include Past Imperfect: Time and African Decolonization, 1945-1960, Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures’, 74, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021.V. Y. Mudimbe: Undisciplined Africanism, ‘Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures’, 29, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013.
“What makes this Bakwa Books dual-language edition utterly unprecedented and quite marvellous is the project that underpins it. The period spent workshopping, thinking, arguing, and engaging in writing and translating between two very different cultures is (from my point of view as a translator) a radical and utopian approach to producing literature. To have writers and translators going back to the very source of the word and the story together is about as exciting as it gets for me. And the result is a vital, surprising, political and utterly refreshing series of stories. Nothing, from the very first story, is quite as it seems in this anthology. Prepare to have your preconceptions upended and your imagination expanded!"
Sasha Dugdale FRSL is an award-winning British poet, playwright and translator, and former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. She has written five poetry collections and is a translator of Russian literature.
“This is such an exciting and inventive book project, which has led to so many productive conversations: between writers from the same country, ‘divided’ by their use of different ‘colonial’ languages; between academics and the publishing industry; between creative writers and translators; and between the Global North and the Global South. And the end product is precisely the type of empathy—that willingness to see and feel the world from another’s perspective—that the project team describe in their introduction. A great book."
Prof David Murphy is Head of the School of Humanities at Strathclyde University and has published widely on Francophone West African cultures including ‘Performing Global African Culture and Citizenship: Major Pan-African Cultural Festivals from Dakar 1966 to FESTAC 1977’, Tate Papers, 30 (2018) and (with Charles Forsdick), Postcolonial Thought in the French-Speaking World (2009)
“Your Feet Will Lead You Where Your Heart Is is a beautiful and necessary book, and the result of an inspiring program of creative writing, mentorship, and literary translation. Bringing these young Cameroonian writers to more Anglophone and Francophone readers is essential. As the international team behind this project points out in their introduction, literature is one of the best vehicles for empathy, and these stories are filled with it. I keep returning to the daughter watching her father literally eat words—he consumes Bible pages—in the opening scene of Howard Meh-Buh Maximus’ “Things the World Didn’t Tell You.” The distance between these two figures is electric and palpable, yet so is the daughter’s desire to bridge it. We are in the room with them; we are present; we have crossed cultural and linguistic borders to be there, seeing other lives that illuminate our own. This is what literature can do, and why we need more books like this."
Andrew Seguin is a poet, photographer and author of a full-length poetry collection, The Room In Which I Work (Omnidawn, 2017), and two chapbooks: Black Anecdote (Poetry Society of America, 2010) and NN (Tammy, 2016). Andrew’s poems have appeared widely in literary magazines, including in Boston Review, CROWD, Denver Quarterly, Guernica, Gulf Coast, LIT, and Iowa Review.
Artwork by Danielle Eog Makedah
Cover Design by Dante Besong
La présente anthologie bilingue révèle de nouvelles pistes sur lesquelles s’engage la nouvelle camerounaise, avec des récits voguant entre fantaisie, existentialisme, afrojujuisme et réalisme. Ainsi, dans « Une bataille au crachat », un narrateur peu typique courtise l’étroite limite entre empathie, radicalisation, et instincts primitifs; dans « Il faut trouver Jaman », un agent d’entretien travaillant dans une prison collectionne des effets appartenant à des détenus exécutés, ce qui le mènera à une intéressante découverte ; dans la nouvelle éponyme, frère et sœur reprennent contact après quarante ans de séparation, exhumant des secrets qui bouleverseront leurs vies à jamais.
Résultant de deux ateliers, l’un sur la création littéraire et l’autre sur la traduction littéraire, les deux suivis d’une période de mentorat, ces nouvelles vous pourchasseront longtemps après leur lecture.
« Ce recueil recèle des nouvelles aussi rafraîchissantes qu’audacieuses et stimulantes. Il aborde des thématiques telles le handicap, la religion, l’amour et la violence conjugale entre autres, lesquelles sont auscultées et explorées avec des rebondissements qui absorbent et laissent pensif.ve bien après lecture » — Edwige Dro
« Textes surprenants, puissants et souvent amers, comme les pages d’un livre saint qu’on trempe dans l’eau avant de les mâcher. On en fait plusieurs bouchées, dures à avaler, mais dont le goût reste en bouche, longtemps après le repas d’encre, de papier, de mots… » — Florian Ngimbis
Artwork by Danielle Eog Makedah
Cover Design by Dante Besong
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