The Atlantide Festival 2019, curated by Alain Mabanckou, was hosted in Nantes, France from February 28 to March 3, 2019.
The Atlantide Literature Festival, founded in 2013, gathered fifty writers from 24 different nationalities to the French city of Nantes. Just like in 2018, the artistic director of the festival now in its seventh year, would be Alain Mabanckou. The Congolese author and essayist would speak in the official program, “literature has never been so close to our questions, and most often it borrows from the need to deconstruct the past, to scrutinize the present and to propose a vision of the future.”
The invited authors for the 2019 edition of the festival were José Eduardo Agualusa, Vincent Almendros, Christine Angot, Pierre Assouline, Sefi Atta, Joséphine Bacon, Jeanine Baude, Andreas Becker, Justin Bisanswa, Pascal Blanchard, In Koli Jean Bofane, Adrien Bosc, Estelle- Sarah Bulle, Fulvio Caccia, Alexander Chardin, Sylvester Clancier, Gwen de Bonneval, Miquel de Palol, Victor del Árbol, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, David Diop, Gauz, Carsten Jensen, Serge Joncour, Natasha Kanapé Fountain, Aram Kebabdjian, Yasmina Khadra, Kochka , Severine Kodjo-Grandvaux, Shih-Li Kow, Dany Laferriere, Max Lobe, Jeanne Macaigne, Michelle Montmoulineix, Jean-Claude Mourlevat, Grażyna Plebanek, Taiye Selasi, Lola Shoneyin, Shumona Sinha, Herve Tanquerelle, Mikhail Tarkovsky, Chantal Thomas, Dominic Thomas, Zoe Valdes, Pierre Vinclair, Paul Wamo, Wu Ming-yi, Samar Yazbek,Valérie Zenatti.
It was a huge production in the eastern city of Nantes with a variety of activities that these authors were involved in. As this blog focuses on Africans, we shall be shining a light on those from our continent and what they did at the festival.
Grand Rencontre (One-on-Ones).
A popular way for bibliophiles to meet their favourite writers were the “Grand Rencontre” which was a One-on-One’s talk featuring an author and a moderator. Over the festival period these One-on-Ones would showcase among others Alain Mabanckou, José Eduardo Agualusa, David Diop, Max Lobe, In Koli Jean Bofane, Gauz, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Estelle-Sarah Bulle, Sefi Atta, and Yasmina Khadra,
Panels and conversations.
Apart from the One-on-One’s, there were several panels where audiences could here author speak about a variety of topics around technique, themes, and everything around writers and their production. One of these was “Qu’est-ce qu’un roman engagé ou politique?” (What is an engaged or political novel?) featuring Lola Shoneyin, José Eduardo Agualusa, and Víctor del Árbol moderated by H. Artus.
The panel “Dernières nouvelles de la littérature nigériane” (Latest news from Nigerian literature) would have Sefi Atta, Lola Shoneyin, and Taiye Selasi moderated by N. Levisalles speaking about the rise of Nigerian literature. Shoneyin and Selasie would also feature in the C. Pont-Humbert moderated panel “Afroféminisme, une nouvelle arme?’ (Afrofeminism, a new weapon?) alongside Séverine Kodjo-Grandvaux.
Then there was “Relire l’histoire colonial” (Rereading colonial history) with Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Gauz, and Pascal Blanchard moderated by A. Abidi. Gauz would also feature in the M. Rigopoulos moderated panel “Relire l’Histoire à travers le roman” (Rereading history through the novel) alongside Adrien Bosc, and Serge Joncour.
“Quête d’Afrique(s)” (Africa Quest(s)) was another panel which would feature Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Max Lobe, and Séverine Kodjo-Grandvaux moderated by C. Pont-Humbert.
In another session, festival director Alain Mabanckou would share the stage with Pascal Blanchard, and Dominic Thomas to speak about the book Du sexe, de la race et des colonies (Sex, race and colonies).
In Koli Jean Bofane, Yasmina Khadra, and Samar Yazbek would be moderated by M. Aïssaoui on the panel “L’autre visage du monde” (The other face of the world). This panel was about being the writer of topics their books spoke about like terrorism in Paris, the war in Syria, and the corpse of a woman in an alley of Casablanca, where sometimes reality seems to be stranger than fiction.
In “Mondes anglophone et francophone” (English and French speaking worlds) In Koli Jean Bofane would join Dominic Thomas and Joséphine Bacon, moderated by C. Pont-Humbert, to talk about how the French-speaking community should react to the so-called “Domination” of literary creation in English.
In “Le récit de l’urbanité” (The story of urbanity) Sefi Atta and In Koli Jean Bofane would be joined by Shih-Li Kow and Grażyna Plebenek in session moderated by H. Artus. Their session focused on how the contemporary novel increasingly sketched the city with its legends, aspirations, heroines and heroes, even anti-heroes.
In “Francophonie ou cacophonie?” (Francophonie or cacophony?) the French-speaking world has been criticized, and France has never been able to erase the reproach according to which it would perpetuate its foreign policy in its former colonies, particularly in Africa. Discussing on what model of Francophonie to propose were Max Lobe, Justin Bisanswa, and Shumona Sinha moderated by M. Aïssaoui.
Max Lobe would also feature in a session entitled “Exil de ses propres origines” (Exile of his own origins) alongside Pierre Assouline where they would speak about the exile experience for the writer. They would be moderated by F. Bouchy.
Here are more images from the festival taken by Michael Meniane courtesy of the festival team. Thank you for allowing us to share these images.