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The Fortunes of Wangrin

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The Fortunes of Wangrin
Amadou Hampâté Bâ
Translated by Aina Pavolini Taylor with an Introduction by F. Abiola Irele

Winner of the Grand Prix Litteraire de l'Afrique Noire

"I think this is perhaps the best African novel on colonialism and it draws very richly on various modes of oral literature." --Ralph Austen, University of Chicago

"It is a wonderful introduction to colonial
Paperback, 296 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Indiana University Press (first published 1973)
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Harry Rutherford
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Fortunes of Wangrin is my book from Mali for the Read The World challenge.

It’s a novel — or at least it seems to be universally described as a novel, despite the fact that Hampaté Bâ says in the Afterword:

I don’t know why, even is spite of the specific assertions contained in the Foreword, some people continue to ask themselves whether this narrative is fiction, reality, or a clever mixture of both…

I’ll repeat once more, then, for anyone who might still be in doubt, that I heard everything
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Je suis toujours surprise par la façon dont Amadou Hampate Ba me fait pénétrer si facilement et rapidement dans l’univers de ses histoires. La façon dont il les raconte, la consistance des personnages et l’avancée du récit sont somptueux. Wangrin est un personnage fascinant et malin qui, à travers son histoire, nous permet de voir une époque autrement.
Marcia Letaw
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
And this is what happens when a person is aggressive in the face of Destiny: doing battle, fighting the good fight. Such a man was Wangrin. To those who would say that it doesn't matter since all of us are condemned to the same ending, I would counter that endings and beginnings don't matter, rather it's everything in between; it's the legacy left in the hearts and lives of those we encounter. Wangrin touched and improved hundreds of lives in his journey through Elias Khoury's tunnel between two ...more
Sidinho Diaby
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm writing this review with my eyes full of tears because during the time I spent reading this book, I got attached to Wangrin and his world. The story of Wangrin is truly a beautiful story which is at the same time educational, intriguing, funny, and sad, and the author does a great job introducing the reader to the world, and developing the characters while staying very entertaining. I can't count how many times I cracked up at some of stunts Wangrin was able to pull off. This is by far one ...more
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love Hampâté Bâ's writing style, particularly when he makes it clear to his readers that he is telling his story for their benefit by interrupting the narration to insert an important piece of information. In this novel, the reader follows Wangrin through his life as he manipulates his way into powerful positions. Often, Wangrin comes across as a very selfish, self-centered man who will stop at nothing to obtain money and power. If the reader only reads the story and skips the forward and ...more
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an entertaining and fast-moving tale of a colonial West-African translator who uses his charm, political skills, guile and everything else at his disposal (most importantly, money and a good education) to work the system to his advantage. It beautifully and convincingly conveys the textures of spiritual and cultural life in Africa under colonialism, where political and cultural arrangements overlap and influence each other, making a strange but dynamic social environment. Like ...more
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fascinating "true story" told to Bâ by Wangrin himself, this story is an interesting tale about a protagonist that is not necessarily a likeable character. Pay attention to the particular details about how writing and orality becomes both his path to glory and his downfall.
David Smith
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best stories I have read coming out of West Africa - Wangrin, an enterprising young man in Afrique Occidentale Francaise learns how to work the system, to his benefit and to the benefit of those around him. Much thanks to Dr. Naino at the LCBC for the recommendation.
Jul 11, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in pre-colonial/colonial West Africa
One of Ba's finest works, a fun read too
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La storia di un self made man che sfrutta la propria intelligenza per farsi strada nella società maliana e quella coloniale per il proprio interesse e la propria riccheza. Un guascone divertente e avido, generoso quando serve, ma in pace con il modo, acerrimo nemico di chi osa mettergli i bastoni fra le ruote, ma anche infantile nei desideri fino all'arroganza, manipolatore legato alle tradizioni e a ogni religione sottomano.
Un personaggio solare con pesanti ombre mostrate con leggerezza, larger
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'histoire et le parcours de Wangrin en soit sont admirables et passionnants. Seulement ce qui m'a dérangé c'est le fait qu'il y ait eu beaucoup [trop] de détails superflus et le reportage de tous les éloges n'était pas vraiment nécessaire. Cependant ça reste un livre que j'ai beaucoup aimé et dont je garde un souvenir plutôt positif.
Reading the world in books: Mali.
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading World #16: Mali
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wangrin (not his real name) was an intelligent, French educated opportunist working within the colonial administration of French West Africa. The author tells his life story in a style which uses the oral history tradition of the indigenous population rather than as a European style biography. He is not the only African author to use an oral story-telling style; he does use it better than others I have read.
There are a lot of novels and memoirs about the culture clash of colonialism and
Constance Fastré
La biographie d'un Africain du début du 20ième siècle dans une colonie française, écrite par un de ses anciens amis: très original et tellement intéressant!
Je ne suis pas sûre d'apprécier Wangrin (ou en fait aucun des personnages décrit dans ce roman). Tous ces hommes ne sont guidés que par leur soif de pouvoir et/ou d'argent. Le rôle des femmes est très limité (à part en tant que mère ou objet sexuel, en gros). Mais il y a tellement de choses à apprendre sur la culture africaine! Et sur la
Kirk Johnson
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had a need to read stories by authors of the African continent. This was such a surprising delight.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A best Book full of Life Lesson
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magnifique roman, fantastique histoire le tout pris d'une magie africaine. Vraiment très très bon!! A lire absolument :)
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Amadou Hampâté Bâ was born to an aristocratic Fula family in Bandiagara, the largest city in Dogon territory and the capital of the precolonial Masina Empire. After his father's death, he was adopted by his mother's second husband, Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam of the Toucouleur ethnic group. He first attended the Qur'anic school run by Tierno Bokar, a dignitary of the Tijaniyyah brotherhood, then ...more