Droit de Cité: Être Femme au Burkina Faso by Monique Ilboudo

orange book with two women chatting on cover, plants in background

a nutshell: from FGM to contraception, gender-based violence to witchcraft, this rigorous book explores the status of women’s rights in Burkina Faso through the country’s colonial period and beyond

a line: “In Burkina Faso as elsewhere, women are fighting for the recognition that before their womanhood there is their humanity. It is in the name of this humanity, which they share with men, that women demand equal opportunities and rights.”

an image: in a moving quote from a victim of female genital mutilation, we’re asked how this could be a practice that represents the work of God, the figure who supposedly bestowed these very organs – how could these people carrying out the mutilation claim to know better than God?

a thought: in chapter 7, Ilboudo questions why traditional gender roles appear to be so fixed and notes the usual response, « il y a des tâches féminines et il y a des tâches masculines! » (there are female tasks and male tasks), which struck me as identical to former UK PM Theresa May’s remark “There are boy jobs and girl jobs, you see”; Ilboudo comments that “women’s work” never finishes

a fact: Ilboudo’s novel Si Loin de Ma Vie (So Distant From My Life) is currently being translated by Sierra Leonean-Ugandan writer & translator Yarri Kamara, who won the 2020 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant to complete her translation

want to read Droit de Cité? visit here

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (tr. Susan Bernofsky)

a nutshell: an esteemed professor (and former east Berliner) retires, only then to learn how myopic his world-view has been as he arbitrarily gets to know asylum-seekers housed nearby

a line: “Richard has read Foucault and Baudrillard, and also Hegel and Nietzsche, but he doesn’t know what you can eat when you have no money to buy food.”

an image: a boy from Niger plays the piano for the first time, producing lopsided, harsh, stumbling, beautiful notes – Erpenbeck writes of how black and white keys tell stories here that have nothing at all to do with their colours

a thought: quite simply, I’d recommend this book to everyone I know

a fact: at one point Richard recalls reading a report in 1995 in which his colleague, a Stasi informant, had fed officials various details about Richard’s personal life and concluded that he was unsuitable for conspirational collaboration according to Directive 1/79, revealing the extent to which individuals in the GDR had to be on their guard – I then found out Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967


want to read Go, Went, Gone? visit here