- Category: TOW 2006
Born in Yaoundé (Cameroon) in 1970, Patrice Nganang is currently Associate Professor for French and German at Shippenburg University (Pennsylvania, USA). Patrice studied Comparative Literature at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University (Frankfurt / Main, Germany), from which he also holds a PhD.
Most of his fiction is written in French and published by French publishers. He first published a collection of poems, Elobi, in 1995, and is the author of several novels: La promesse des fleurs, Temps de chien, La joie de vivre, L'invention du beau regard, among others.
His most acclaimed novel, Temps de Chien, was awarded the Prix Marguerite Yourcenar (for Francophone writers living in the USA) in 2001 and the Grand Prix Littéraire de l'Afrique Noire (leading literary award for African Francophone writers) in 2002. This novel has been translated into German in 2003 under the title Hundezeiten and is to be released in English under the title Dog Days in the course of 2006 (Dog days, University of Virginia Press).
“The writer simply tries to become human. Perhaps he is more aware than others that it is not so easy, even less in our contemporary world and especially on the African continent where countries are, one by one, falling into chaos,” says Patrick Nganang. Indeed, his writings are very much about how the writer can reach and describe humanism through the medium of language. To this end, inTemps de Chien, the narrator is a dog.
Nganang's attempt at describing the poor areas of Yaoundé as well as his characters' endeavour to be human creates a highly original literature in which tragedy meets comedy, making the best of the colourful localised French language.
‘[…] writing is founded on ethics; writing a novel, a poem or an essay cannot be a meaningless act; telling a story becomes really meaningful only when it enables the multiple homes of humanity to be built with a little more accuracy, a little more intelligence, a little more subtlety, a little more love, a little more freedom, yes, with a little more imagination […].'
As a scholar, and apart from his fiction work, Patrice Nganang is also a recognised African literature specialist and a regular contributor to several academic journals around the world.
Elobi, collection of poems, Saint-Germain-des-Près, 1995
La promesse des fleurs, novel, L'Harmattan, 1997
Temps de chien, novel, Le Serpent à Plumes, 2001
Hundezeiten, German translation of Temps de Chien, Peter Hammer, 2003
La joie de vivre, novel, Le Serpent à Plumes, 2003
L'invention du beau regard, two novellas, Gallimard, 2004
La chanson du jongleur, novel serialized daily in the newspaper Le Messager, July-September 2005
Elobi, English translation of Elobi, African world press, [Forthcoming] 2006
Dog Days, English translation of Temps de Chien, University of Virginia Press, [Forthcoming] 2006