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In the United States of Africa

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3.13  ·  Rating details ·  163 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, this novel by the acclaimed French-speaking African writer Abdourahman A. Waberi turns the fortunes of the world upside down. On this reimagined globe a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West, from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to escape poverty and desperation in the prosperous Uni ...more
Paperback, 134 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Bison Books (first published January 4th 2006)
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Vicki
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, library-books
Concept: 5 stars.
Execution: 1 star.

The idea is pretty straightforward: set a novel in a parallel reality where the Global South and North are flipped, where Americans and Japanese and Western Europeans rely on handouts from Haitians and Ethiopians and Vietnamese for subsistence. Great lens through which to examine racism and xenophobia.

Not quite a novel, not quite a collection of essays; the book is loosely arranged around the life of Malaika / Maya, a white woman adopted as a child by a wealth
...more
Anfenwick
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
I love this book and I feel it's somehow not making it's way to the readers who would appreciate it - which is a shame. When I ordered it based on the synopsis, I was expecting something like a cross between Tale of Two Cities and Les Miserables. I was excited to see how an African author would imagine an African utopia and how his destitute Europe would accord with the one we know from history.

It was quickly brought home to me that wasn't what I would be getting. If I can drop a few names: Jean
...more
Michelle
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Really liked the idea of this, but the writing style was hard to get into.
Franziska
Zunächst mal einige Worte zum Aufbau: Das Buch gliedert sich in 4 Abschnitte, die jeweils nochmal in (meist recht kurze) Kapitel unterteilt sind. Diese Kapitel beginnen immer mit einer kurzen Zusammenfassung des folgenden Inhalts.
In dem Buch werden verschiedene Personen erwähnt, die einzige, die man jedoch wirklich näher kennen lernt, ist Maya. Sie wurde in Frankreich geboren, nach 4 Jahren adoptiert und wuchs somit in Afrika (also im Wohlstand) auf. Es ist kaum verwunderlich, dass ihr das auf G
...more
Mike
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair explorers
In this short novel the roles of Africa and the West (Europe/USA) are reversed. Africa plays the part of wealth and empire, and the West is a poverty-ridden failure. These two leviathans of history, transvestite, share a woman; it is her story that we follow. Her origins in war-ravaged Europe eclipsed after being nurtured in the bosom of fortunate Africa, she returns to the land of her birth to find herself.

It's all been told before, the tension between civilization and savagery that tears at t
...more
Melissa
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation
Very interesting speculative/alternate history novel where countries of the African continent have been united into one federally-run superpower. This flips the narrative and puts Europe, the US, Australia, etc. into the place of the developing world (I learned from a fellow bookseller who spent a year working with an orphanage in Djibouti, where the author was born/grew up, that the country is more closely linked to France i.e. only French families can adopt children from Djibouti, which makes ...more
Joshua
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really good and really hard to read (in that the ideas are very challenging personally). It is a good and insightful look at the world as it is by looking through a looking glass at a world almost identical to our except for certain geographical specifics. The character of Yacuba, the poor Swiss worker, who can only be pitied for coming from a place so tragically divided by languages, cultures, and unarable, uninhabitable geography is a ringing rebuttal of using those factors and reasons for Afr ...more
Louise
Feb 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: djibouti, man-writer
J'ai mis pourtant beaucoup de volonté mais ce livre m'est tombé des mains. L'idée de départ (l'Afrique comme le seul continent prospère duquel afflue toute la misère d'Europe et d'au-delà) était intéressante, mais l'écriture est indigeste. Le lyrisme y est étouffant, le thème n'est décliné que sous la forme d'un simple négatif de notre monde actuel. On s'y ennuie ferme, on se perd dans les références érudites et la lourdeur de la narration, on ne s'attache ni à l'histoire ni au personnage...
C'es
...more
Tatiana Delendik
Le concept du roman est génial et ne mérite que des éloges!!!! Bravo à Waberi pour ça!!! "Casque bleus nigériens" ou "une insalubre favela de Zurich" , ça, c'est une satire de meilleure qualité!

Pourtant le coté mécanique de la narration ne m'a point plu.. J'avais du mal à suivre le sujet et les personages..Peut-être c'est à cause de mon immaturiité litéraire (en ce qui concerne de lire en français) mais j'étais impatiante de terminer le livre le plus vite possible, parce qu'il m'encombrait déjà
...more
Patty
Apr 08, 2014 added it
Shelves: fiction
It's a very compelling concept, and I would certainly read it again. History happened somewhat differently, so that in the contemporary world, the United States of Africa is the stable economic superpower, caucasions from Europe and the rest of the west are fleeing poverty and turmoil to it's shores, and the international economic language Ahmharic (I think). The book is super short, and like I said, I would read it again. There isn't really enough of a narrative to it for my taste, though, and ...more
Filipa
Povoado de belíssimas passagens e de muita sátira, e no entanto perde o fôlego por várias razões: não detalha o suficiente como funcionam ou foram criados estes Estados Unidos de África, perde-se nalgumas histórias paralelas e numa heroína que (para mim pelo menos) não se percebe, e tudo ou quase tudo é meramente invertidos, sofrendo estes EUA dos mesmos males que o nosso mundo desenvolvido.
Sinceramente, eu queria perceber como era a vida neste país imaginado e não seguir a órfã Maya.
K's Bognoter
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
In the United States of Africa tager afsæt i en interessant idé. Den er båret af meget vid og er sprogligt set ganske velskrevet. Romanen er meget ambitiøs i sin fortælleteknik, men for mig fremstod den som præget af for meget form og for lidt fortælling. Det er som om, romanen segner under sin egen ambition. Ihvertfald blev den aldrig rigtig interessant for mig.
Læs hele anmeldelsen her: http://bognoter.dk/2016/08/21/abdoura...
Sue Kozlowski
I just did not like this book. I had it as part of my quest to read a book by an author from every country in the world.

There may be more to the story than I understand - there are probably references to people and things that I am not familiar with. But I agree with what other reviewers have written. It is almost as though the author jotted down notes - thoughts he wanted to expand on - and then just published those.
Andrew
Whilst the concept behind this book seemed very interesting - Africa as the developed world versus the underdeveloped northern nations.
Sadly it turned out to be a disappointing read. I found the style of writing difficult to follow as it is a collection of satirical tales rather than a specific story.
Bob Rust
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the United States of Africa (2009) an Alternate World tale whose history is in a sense a mirror reversal of our own. The flow of immigrants to a "Promised Land" has been from West to East, with America now a land where poverty and ignorance generate excuses for racist responses when its citizens become migrant. The Satire is clearcut, though conveyed with a saving Humor.
Marc-Antoine
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: signed-by-author
Abdourahman A. Waberi has managed to take away everything I have and take for granted and give it to someone else. I watch from the sidelines as someone else takes it for granted. "I see," said the blind man.
Diana Vuiller
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Will make you think....praise to University of Nebraska Press for translation & publishing this book, quoting Percival Everett....
Val
Dec 11, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: world-extra
Djibouti
Purple Iris
Jul 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I give up. I love the premise of this book and the first few pages were fun. But there's no story to speak of and the cute little wordplays are just not holding my attention anymore.
Clémence
Actual rating: 3,5 stars.
Rachel Jones
Jul 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
The idea of this book is beautiful but, the reality of this book is uninspired and nothing special.
Erin
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliant concept, like other reviews I found the writing style (or translation?) clunky but still well worth reading.
Abbi
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting but in places hard to follow. Often like reading a prose poem, lovely writing.
Allison
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I expected this book to be a bit gimmicky, but it is actually a finely wrought, poetically written work of prose. The ideas are challenging, and the story is beautiful.
Tineke Dijkstra
Interesting insights, brought to the reader in a very creative way. Waberi is a genius, although I must say that his style probably is hard to read when read for the first time (and all the more for those not used to African lit). I think at least two or three readings of the book are needed to take sufficient from it in order to recognize it as the master work it is - or, in some aspects, could be.
Herb
rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2014
Tim A.
rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2013
Caralen
rated it liked it
May 14, 2016
Justine
rated it really liked it
Feb 13, 2015
Anwar
rated it it was amazing
Aug 08, 2017
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