Long, long time ago I read Segou, volume 1 and volume 2. An impressive historical novel, written by Maryse Conde, the writer who was born in Guadeloupe. This a country at a fair distance from the African continent, where she has resided for many years. Now this book is fiction on a fictitious state in Africa.
In this book we meet Zek, who has studied in Paris where he met his wife Marie-Hélène. She hails from the West Indies. The couple decides to move to the ancestral ground of Zek. They move into an old colonial house, while Zek takes up his job at a local bank. M-H does not feel at home. Her thoughts linger on the places she left and the people she left in the West Indies. And she thinks about Madou, the younger brother of Zek who has risen in the ranks of the new political elite of the country, run by the dictator Toumany. She sits at home, with no purpose and no strength to find her place.
One day Zek brings the news that Madou will come back home to celebrate an important Natiuonal Day in the life of this young country. This younger brother is now a minister with ambitions, and with feelings of love for M-H.
Through all these complicated relations we find a political angle as we meet people who look for an another way of running the country. We see how personal plans are being thwarted by the political world.
At times this book is a bit too stereotyped and the issues have been written in many books already.
Maryse Conde – Une Saison à Rihata – 1981
P.S. The English language translation that I have read is a secondhand copy. The first reader wrote his comment about this book on one of the first pages:
“Not too bad – but with little interest – a book to pass on.
MB 2007. (Anyway better by far than all the other books by Africans that I have read. Perhaps the style loses a lot in translation! who knows!)”