'It's a real battle': African authors fight for publishing independence

Francophone African books are still very often published by French imprints, which can make them hard to get at home. But there is a growing push for changeWhen Cameroonian author Daniel Alain Nsegbe first saw his debut novel for sale in his home city of Douala, the price was so high “you would have to ask someone to stop eating for two days in order to buy the book”. It was around 16,000 CFA francs (£20); the average monthly salary in Douala is £150. The book, Ceux qui sortent dans la nuit (Those Who Go Out at Night) was published by Grasset, a French imprint.This is not uncommon: Francophone African authors, whether classic or contemporary, are often published by French, not African presses. This arrangement began in colonial times, but continues because of a number of factors that are particular to France. Publishers frequently push for world rights for all books written in French. Many African writers operate without agents, who would usually divide up rights territories on their behalf. Agents are still a new feature on the African literary landscape, meaning that many classics, such as 1953’s L’enfant noir (The African Child) by Guinean author Camara Laye, and Algerian writer Kateb Yacine’s 1956 novel Nedjma, are owned by publishers in France (Plon and Éditions du Seuil respectively). As French publishers continue to control distribution and pricing, classic authors go missing from bookshelves while contemporary authors struggle to get their books in the hands of... Continue reading at 'The Guardian'

[ The Guardian | 2020-05-14 09:59:14 UTC ]
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