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The Crack Magazine


Co-wives, Co-widows by Adrienne Yaouza

Dedalus remain one of the most interesting publishers in the UK. They established themselves in 1983 and became known for novels that explored the bizarre, the unusual and the surreal. Since then they have specialised in both European literature – in translation – and European non-fiction (including classics such as ‘Modern Art’ by J.K. Huysmans – published in 1883 – which was the first book to proclaim the genius of the Impressionists). More recently, they’ve have also brought us the best in African literature, the latest of which is this, the first book from the Central African Republic to be translated into English. It was written by Adrienne Yabouza, who was born in the Central African Republic in 1965. After fleeing the civil war with her five children in 2013, she gained political asylum in France. Her slim novel tells the story of Ndongo Passy and Grekpoubou, two women who are both married to Lidou. When Lidou dies suddenly, the two widows – already friendly – are drawn even closer together to fight for what is rightfully theirs. Meanwhile, the drumbeat of an election is being played out in the background. It’s a tale in which the injustices enacted on the two women mirror the wider injustices being inflicted on the country as a whole; and a tale in which corruption feels just as much a part of life as the relentless sun, with favours being bestowed on those who can stuff a brown envelope with the most cash. RM