"Cœur du Sahel", the fourth novel by Cameroonian novelist Djaïli Amadou Amal (photo) was included in Académie Goncourt’s "ten favorite books" last week. To compile this list, each of the ten Goncourt academics was asked to recommend a book to be read this summer.
The listing may seem simplistic but, it is a symbolic reward for the ten authors on the list. Especially for Djaïli Amadou Amal, the only African in this selection. Her selection confirms integration into the closed circle of established authors in French and even international literature.
This status no doubt justifies the fact that the Cameroonian writer has been designated by the Académie Goncourt as the patron of Cameroon's "Choix Goncourt" 2022. This project gives young students in 35 countries around the world the chance to take on the role of a critical jury by choosing a novel shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt, to be awarded next November.
In Cameroon, students chose “Le Mage du Kremlin" by Italian-Swiss author Giuliano Da Empoli.
A romantic tale
Besides its symbolism, the selection is sure to have an economic impact. The ten novels on the list are theoretically guaranteed first places in bookshops. It is therefore highly likely that sales of "Coeur du Sahel" will increase rapidly.
With this novel, Djaïli Amadou Amal has once again chosen to highlight the conditions faced by young Sahelian girls in a man's world. She tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who left her village to look for work in Maroua, the main city in Cameroon's Far North, to support her family. In her new environment, the young girl faced the same difficult conditions as young girls in the male chauvinist environment.
As a reminder, Djaïli Amadou Amal made a name for herself in France by winning the Goncourt des lycéens in 2020 with her novel "Les Impatientes", published by Emmanuelle Collas. That novel also describes the situation of young Muslim girls.
Michel Ange Nga