Patrice Nganang’s novel When the Plums Are Ripe, published by Macmillan imprint Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is out on August 13, 2019.
Patrice Nganang is an author, poet and academic from Cameroon who writes primarily in French. His books include the poetry collection Elobi (2006) and the essay collections Le Principe Dissident (2005), Manifeste D’une Nouvelle Littérature Africaine (2007), and L’Afrique Répond à Sarkozy – Contre Le Discours De Dakar, Ouvrage Collectif (2008).
The Cameroonian is most famous for his fiction with the titles La Promesse Des Fleurs (1997), Temps De Chien (1999) which was translated into English as Dog Days (2006), La Joie De Vivre (2003), Dernières Nouvelles Du Colonialisme (2006), L’Invention Du Beau Regard (2005), La Saison Des Prunes (2013), and Empreintes De Crabe (2018).
In 2011, he started a trilogy focusing on the story of Cameroon caught between empires during World War II European War II with Mont Plaisant which was translated into English as Mount Pleasant in 2016. He followed through on this book with La Saison Des Prunes in 2013. The English translation of the new publication translated from the French by Amy B. Reid is expected on the African literary scene on August 13. Here is the blurb of the book;
In Cameroon, plum season is a highly anticipated time of year. But for the narrator of When the Plums Are Ripe, the poet Pouka, the season reminds him of the “time when our country had discovered the root not so much of its own violence as that of the world’s own, and, in response, had thrown its sons who at that time were called Senegalese infantrymen into the desert, just as in the evenings the sellers throw all their still-unsold plums into the embers.” In this novel of radiant lyricism, Patrice Nganang recounts the story of Cameroon’s forced entry into World War II, and in the process complicates our own understanding of that globe-spanning conflict. After the fall of France in 1940, Cameroon found itself caught between Vichy and the Free French at a time when growing nationalism advised allegiance to neither regime, and was ultimately dragged into fighting throughout North Africa on behalf of the Allies.
Moving from Pouka’s story to the campaigns of the French general Leclerc and the battles of Kufra and Murzuk, Nganang questions the colonial record and recenters African perspectives at the heart of Cameroon’s national history, all the while writing with wit and panache. When the Plums Are Ripe is a brilliantly crafted, politically charged epic that challenges not only the legacies of colonialism but the intersections of language, authority, and history itself.