[Saturday Reads] #DecolonizeBookshelves2022 – An Emancipatory Letter From A Senegalese Muslim Woman


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

So Long A Letter [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Mariama Bâ Published by Waveland Press, Inc. (2012, first published 1980) Original Title: Une si longue lettre Literary Award: Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1980) ISBN: 1577668065 (ISBN13: 9781577668060) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

This is the sixth book that I am reviewing / featuring as part of our #DecolonizeBookshelves2022 reading theme from my target list of 25 books (for this year) from This Is The Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelf In 50 Books (Amazon | Book Depository) – and the fifth novel written by a female author.

My book log indicates that I started reading the book on May 04 and finished it the next day (May 05) – the novel that I binge-read during the Eid holiday.

As I have noted in my handwritten review above, this is the first book I have read from Senegal – and I am delighted that it is authored by a Muslim woman, featuring a strong female character who was recently widowed, and narrated in a crystal-clear voice that is emancipatory and filled with a resolute sense of self that can not be denied.

I also found a few quotes (which unfortunately did not fit my review above) that surface the postcolonial nature of this epistolary novel:

I especially liked seeing how Africa was not portrayed as a monolithic cultural group, but one that is peopled with so many diverse individuals with their own distinct traits and traditions:

This last quote I am sharing here presents a plaintive question, one that I share with Mariama Bâ, as people still continue to wage wars where no one truly emerge as victorious, except the carpetbaggers who aim to exploit people’s greed and unquenchable hunger for power and dominance.

This is a refreshingly female-centric story that is ardently feminist without necessarily packaging itself to be one. As I noted in my review, it simply is. I am glad to have been brought to this book through our #DecolonizeBookshelves2022 reading theme. One of my favourites from the (thus-far) underwhelming list.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 47 out of target 100

May 21, 2022 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal