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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Nicholas Elliott Translator.
Tierno Monenembo's The King of Kahel was originally published in France in and was the winner of the French literary prize, the prix Renaudot , which is awarded to the author of an outstanding original novel.
Loosely based on the life of Olivier de Sanderval, a man who journeyed to Guinea to build an empire by conquering the hostile region of Fouta Djallon, the book e Tierno Monenembo's The King of Kahel was originally published in France in and was the winner of the French literary prize, the prix Renaudot , which is awarded to the author of an outstanding original novel.
Loosely based on the life of Olivier de Sanderval, a man who journeyed to Guinea to build an empire by conquering the hostile region of Fouta Djallon, the book exposes how Sanderval braves all dangers to build a railway that will bring modern civilization to Africa.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published by Amazon Crossings first published April 30th More Details Original Title. Prix Renaudot Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The King of Kahel , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The King of Kahel. Feb 14, Harry Rutherford rated it liked it Shelves: around-the-world , africa , west-africa.
That aside, this is an enjoyable if unexceptional literary novel. The book reads to me like a playful re-imagining of history, so I assumed it was only based lightly on the historical Sanderval. As an example the book being unexpectedly accurate, Google found me this: a real coin produced by the real Olivier de Sanderval to serve as currency for his kingdom of Kahel. Which is sort of amazing, actually. Shelves: africa , library , historical-fiction , empire-and-aftermath , new-in , found-in-translation , france , biographical-fiction , 21st-century-fic , the-stacks.
I received Le Mot Juste: A Dictionary of Classical and Foreign Words and Phrases for my tenth birthday, and though I am unable to locate it in the stacks at the moment, though I suspect that it is somewhere in the second or third row of books on the shelf in the foyer i distinctly remember an entry for a word in Javanese or Zulu? Thi I received Le Mot Juste: A Dictionary of Classical and Foreign Words and Phrases for my tenth birthday, and though I am unable to locate it in the stacks at the moment, though I suspect that it is somewhere in the second or third row of books on the shelf in the foyer i distinctly remember an entry for a word in Javanese or Zulu?
This word, if I were willing, in this sweltering heat, to move away from my spot in front of the fan to get up and look for the aforementioned book, would make a fitting description in this review for precisely what happened to the kingdom of Fouta Djallon and her princes and almami -spiritual ledger and ruler of the entire kingdom- but also what ultimately happens to Aime Olivier Viscount de Sanderval in his doomed pursuit of the Kingdom of Kahel.
The real de Sanderval was:" the spitting image of the 19th century. Beginning with his education and temperament, everything had prepared him to live for the passions of his time - ideas, science, and the great expeditions.
He had been molded with the mind of a pioneer in the century of pioneers. Tierno Monenembo has written a romance of this brave and idiosyncratic man, whose religious, scientific and cultural theories made him both an object of interest and scorn in French society.
In The King of Kahel , Aime dreams of a kingdom of his own in Africa, and in his 42 year, heads to Africa to conquer one. The year is , and he is headed to western Africa to build a railroad. De sandervals approach to colonization is one of friendship, and while the French government ignores his exploits, he is steadily building up the political loyalties and friendships that he needs to install himself as king of the provence of Kahel and get the treaties that he needs to build a railroad from the coast to the jungle.
He sweet talks the Fula ledge dears, making them his friends and partners in crime. His dream of Afircan riches get closer and closer, as he manipulates the warring princes Into giving him land and title. Once he finds success, the french government begins to show Interest in his conquests, and just as Sanderval has carved out a little kingdom - a trading post here, a railway concession there, so the French begin to take sandervals land- here a military garrison, there a colonial governors mansion.
TKOK is a starts off as a wonderful romantic adventure and was an enjoyable read, though not a replacement or a peer of Things Fall Apart. An aside, TKOK was the first complete novel that I read entirely in e-book form, and I must say, the experience is vastly different from reading a book printed on paper. The highlighting and search functions made the 'wait-who was that guy again?
Something is lost, however, when a character is tracking hares through 'the rocky Mediterranean inlets' of Cassis, and with a quick highlight and a a featherlgiht touch of a screen, there are images of the rocky Mediterranean inlets near Cassis. They are beautiful, but that immediacy and unalterable fact of their appearance robs the reader of an opportunity to imagine what they might look like.
I thought to turn it off, but once I started accessing the Wikipedia entries at my fingertips I couldn't stop. What is a kepi? Who was Samori Toure? The answers were right there. I barely needed to think. I got bored. I haven't given up on the dead trees yet. Fouta was a federation. Ultimate power resided in Timbo, but Fogoumba, the mystical religious capital, crowned the almami, voted on legislation, and declared war. Timbo was a second tribe holding great power in Fouta.
Needless to say, this federation resulted in quite a bit of artful political wrangling and subtlety. But, just at the point where it tottered on the brink of a power struggle between the sons and nephews of the reigning kings, France launched a bid for hegemony, with England not far at their heels. He dreamed of owning a kingdom in the beautiful region of Fouta Djallon, which is a major part of the inland area of present day Guinea.
So he sets off on a mission of his own to make himself King, while giving France access to the interior of Africa. France has something else in mind. And, the Fula people are not only wary of all, but they use their own tactics of espionage and treachery to make the whole gambit quite painful for everyone involved. Both are probably accurate depictions. At first, the reader will find Sanderval intensely dislikable. But soon, the underdog effect draws sympathy for this ironical character.
The author makes the mistake of giving the Frenchman an African mindset at times, especially near the beginning. Because of this, you are reminded often that this is Sanderval as he was viewed from the African perspective. In a stroke of humor, the author has Sanderval dress up in a Mephistopheles costume to convince the Africans of his rank, simply because the costume is silk and finer clothing than what the explorer was wearing.
Mephistopheles is a demon featured in German folklore. So, here you have the image of the white man appearing as he really is… a devil trying to carve a kingdom. Compounding that irony is the fact that the French have frequently been called devils by the English.
You see glimpses of the lives of women at that time. The flora and fauna are described throughout, as well as the many details of the geography. But, you also get an unsavory glimpse of European society in an age when people from exotic locales were put on display as freaks and lower evolved creatures. Is that cheating? It could not be avoided, so no time for apologies since I cannot wait to get on with the story.
Nov 15, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: own-loanable , translated-fiction , project-fit. I'm always on the lookout for new fiction from Africa, so when I saw this translation of a Guinean book was available I snapped it up. Aside from my interest in world literature, my grandparents lived in Conakry from , so the country holds a particular interest for me.
The novel as a form does not have a long history in Africa, and as a result, much of the African fiction available in the West focuses on the struggle for independence and the legacy of colonialism. This book goes further b I'm always on the lookout for new fiction from Africa, so when I saw this translation of a Guinean book was available I snapped it up. This book goes further back in history to deliver a fictionalized version of the exploits of 19th-century French adventurer Olivier de Sanderval, whose personal ambitions were at least partly to blame for France's colonization of what is modern-day Guinea.
Sanderval was a prodigiously talented and wealthy man of his time, whose childhood romance with tales of exploration were the catalyst for his adult ambitions to carve a slice out of the African pie for himself and to a lesser extent, France. He was also a prolific writer who extensively documented his travels, and the author of this novel also had access to private family archives in gathering material for the book. Unfortunately this seems like a case where having too much "true" information at one's hands actually inhibits the fiction.
Far too much of the book reads like a thinly fictionalized rendering of a travelogue, in which various trials and tribulations are chronicled in a manner which becomes slightly tedious. The book does a decent job of illustrating the complexities of Europe's colonization of sub-Saharan Africa.
Rather than simply decrying European colonialism, the story illustrates the internal strife among various local potentates, as well as the policy disagreements within the French establishment.
The King of Kahel
ISSN In a first part, hospitality is viewed as part of an exchange system between the Pullo aristocracy and a French explorer, Olivier de Sanderval, in the second half of the nineteenth century. The notion of pulaaku , as the social and moral code of conduct of the Pullo, seems central in this exchange and is a construct of Pullo identity. This "textual hospitality", through the quotation of several sources and the description of some notions, including pulaaku , is a way to become accepted in the Parisian literary system. The final part, which is also the conclusion, shows the reciprocity between both conceptions of hospitality. This is the reason why he is one of the most prominent postcolonial writers, leading the way for this literature to become integral part of the world republic of letters, as defined by Pascale Casanova.
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