Booked All Week

and next week, too

Houseboy, by Ferdinand Oyono

with 6 comments

Toundi is a Cameroonian boy who is fascinated by his French colonizers. He escapes his abusive father by becoming houseboy to the head of the Mission, but when Father Gilbert is killed in a motorcycle accident, he goes to work for the local Commandant. He finds the Commandant, his wife, and the rest of his European masters alternatively intriguing and ridiculous. But through quiet observation he gets to know them well–too well for his own safety.

This is a short book, only 122 pages, but it packs a punch. It’s a critical look at colonialism, racism, and sexual politics through the eyes of a genuine and sympathetic narrator. Of particular interest to me is the way that colonialism forever changes and confuses Toundi’s perception of his own identity and that of his country and culture too, as in the end he asks “Brother, what are we? What are we blackmen who are called French?”

This may be a slim novella, but it’s weighty in substance and rich in thought. Recommended!

Written by Emily Jane

August 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Novellas

Tagged with ,

6 Responses

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  1. this sounds like a powerful slim volume emily ,I ll be adding this to my wishlist have a real liking for african fiction at moment and this seems just up my street ,all the best stu


    August 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  2. Excellent Stu, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

    Emily Jane

    August 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

  3. Oh, sounds interesting! I love books about colonialism–that contact between cultures is fascinating.


    August 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

  4. Yeah, I like them too!

    Emily Jane

    August 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm

  5. Read it as part of my required book for a 2C Unit compulsory FICTION course

    Olatunde Fasanya

    June 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm

  6. its realy an interesting novel. A must read

    Ifeoma Elizabeth

    May 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm

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