Cover image for Descent into night / Edem Awumey ; translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott.
Descent into night / Edem Awumey ; translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott.
Publication Information:
Toronto : Mawenzi House, 2017.

Physical Description:
152 pages ; 22 cm


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AWU Book Adult General Collection

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WINNER - Governor General's Literary Award for Translation Translated from French by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott.From Goncourt Prize finalist a beautiful and brilliant new novel. With a nod to Samuel Beckett and Bohumil Hrabal, a young dramatist from a West African nation describes a student protest against a brutal oligarchy and its crushing aftermath. While distributing leaflets with provocative quotations from Beckett, Ito Baraka is taken to a camp where torture, starvation, beatings, and rape are normal. Forced to inform on his friends, whose fates he now fears, and released a broken man, he is enabled to escape to Quebec. His one goal is to tell the story of the protest and pay homage to Koli Lem, a teacher, cellmate, and lover of books, who was blinded by being forced to look at the sun--and is surely a symbol of the nation. Edem Awumey gives us a darkly moving and terrifying novel about fear and play, repression and protest, and the indomitable nature of creativity.

Author Notes

Edem Awumey was born in Lomé, Togo. He is the author of three previous novels, Port-Melo (2006), which won the prestigious Grand prix littéraire d?Afrique noire; Les pieds sales (2009), which was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt in France; and Rose déluge (2011). The English translation of Les pieds sales, Dirty Feet (2011), was selected for the Dublin Impac Award. In 2006 Awumey was selected to be a literary protégé to the renowned Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun. Edem Awumey currently lives in Gatineau, Quebec.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In his West African homeland, idealistic young university student Ito Baraka, prone to debating the great philosophers and the poètes maudits to the wee hours, hears Congolese writer Sony Lab'ou Tansi declare, "A word is a dead body that aspires to resurrection." Thus does Togo-born, Canadian-based Awumey show how words turn to action, how writing matters, using luminous, exacting prose to deliver the story of Ito's involvement in a student protest in the 1980s. The response leaves blood slicking the campus and sends Ito and his fellow protestors to a prison camp where torture is routine and informing on others a desperate means of survival. Ito is kept alive there by fellow prisoner Koli Lem, who cheerfully advises him that he must endure-"You'll become a great writer, you'll be Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn!" Koli himself suffers a horrific fate, and after leaving prison and immigrating to Canada, Ito determines to honor his friend by telling the story of their protest. VERDICT A Prix Goncourt finalist (Dirty Feet) and winner of the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire (Port-Melo), Awumey delivers a heartrending, perfectly crafted work. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.