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This book has been on the list since I started preparing for this project. Deft, resourceful and at times maddeningly slick, Wangrin rises to prominence and prosperity, until at last his ambition, enemies and the prophecy of ruin spoken on his birth conspire to bring him low once more.
Wangrin is an extraordinary creation. Whether he is undercutting the European millet trade, capitalising on the guilt of two brothers eager to give their relative a proper burial, outsmarting a corrupt official in the courtroom, or beating thugs in a fight, Wangrin is mesmerising. Small wonder that in this compromised society, where educated Malians like Wangrin are recruited to spy on and cheat their peers for their European masters, canny citizens play the French at their own game and put their personal interests first.
Yet perhaps the biggest conflict of all lies not within the narrative itself, but on its margins. There may very well be more to this than meets the eye.
As it stands, though, for the reader coming to the text with no prior knowledge as I did, the clash between the Introduction and the Afterword is deeply uncomfortable. It left me troubled. Post to Cancel.
Books by Amadou Hampâté Bâ
Amadou Hampate Ba