Don't Whisper Too Much and Portrait of a Young Artiste from Bona Mbella

Frieda Ekotto

Translated by: Corine Tachtiris

210 pages
ISBN 9781684480289
The Griot Project Book Series

Don't Whisper Too Much was the first work of fiction by an African writer to present love stories between African women in a positive light. Bona Mbella is the second. In presenting the emotional and romantic lives of gay, African women, Ekotto comments upon larger issues that affect these women, including Africa as a post-colonial space, the circulation of knowledge, and the question of who writes history. In recounting the beauty and complexity of relationships between women who love women, Ekotto inscribes these stories within African history, both past and present. Don't Whisper Too Much follows young village girl Ada's quest to write her story on her own terms, outside of heteronormative history. Bona Mbella focuses upon the life of a young woman from a poor neighborhood in an African megalopolis. And "Panè," a love story, brings the many themes from Don't Whisper Much and Bona Mbella together as it explores how emotional and sexual connections between women have the power to transform, even in the face of great humiliation and suffering. Each story in the collection addresses how female sexuality is often marked by violence, and yet is also a place for emotional connection, pleasure and agency.

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"Frieda Ekotto's fiction opens up new grounds in African queer writing. She was one of the first to write fiction with humanizing representations of the lives of francophone African women loving women. This translation of two of her novellas is a gift to Anglophone readers."
-Brittle Paper

"Don't Whisper Too Much was the first work of fiction by an African writer to present love stories between African women in a positive light; Bona Mbella is the second."

"Together, these two works form an odd whole, but it's very much a whole worth seeking out....Remarkably effective in getting [the] story across....The stories all work in different ways, but that too can be seen as part of the appeal; the way different voices leap out of the page across the various stories and sub-stories is another bonus."

"Ekotto masterfully illustrates the complex layers of African women-loving-women, which include patriarchy, violence, agency and colonialism."
- Ms., December 2019

"The translation of Frieda Ekotto's works . . . represent generic, formal, and topical innovations that make this project certain to be a notable English-language publication in its own right, as well as a landmark addition to the canon of Afro-Francophone literature in translation."
- Carmen R. Gillespie, Griot Institute for Africana Studies, Bucknell University

"Defying the norms of sexuality, culture, and narrative form, Frieda Ekotto brings to her readers a unique vision of queer African life and love. These beautifully rendered translations of Ekotto's poetic prose are long overdue. A major event!"
- Lynne Huffer, Emory University

"Thematically provocative and narratively delicious, Frieda Ekotto's first novel challenges constraining expectations of romantic bonding in Africa. . . . Since the birth of modern African literature in European languages, no other literary imaginings of same-sex eroticism have dared to do what Ekotto accomplishes in her novel . . . It is not surprising that although these novels have only been accessed in French, Whisper has already garnered a sustained critical attention. These English translations are a welcome contribution to a deeper understanding of female (homo)sexuality in Africa and any literature and cultural courses on sexuality will benefit from them."
- Naminata Diabate, Cornell University

About the author:

Frieda Ekotto is Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her early work involves an interdisciplinary exploration of the interactions among philosophy, law, literature and African cinema. Her most recent book is entitled What Color is Black? Race and Sex across the French Atlantic.

About the translator:

Corine Tachtiris translates literature primarily by contemporary women authors from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Czech Republic. She holds an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa and a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan. She teaches world literature and translation theory and practice.

Distributed by Rutgers University Press

Cloth: $39.95, 978-1-6844-8027-2; EPUB: $19.95, 978-1-6844-8029-6


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