Yambo Ouologuem (August 22, 1940 - October 14, 2017)
Born: 22nd August, 1940
Died: 14th October, 2017
Nationality: Malian author
Region: Mali
Notable works: "Bound to Violence", "Lettre a la France negre", "Les Milles et un bibles du sexe"

Yambo Ouologuem Facts

Biography

Yambo Ouologuem, pseudonym Utto Rodolph, (born August 22, 1940, Bandiagara, Mopti region, French Sudan [now Mali]--died October 14, 2017, Sevare, Mali), Malian writer who was highly acclaimed for his first novel, Le Devoir de violence (1968; Bound to Violence), which received the Prix Renaudot. With this work, Ouologuem became the first African writer to receive a major French literary award.

Ouologuem was born to a ruling-class family and attended local schools in addition to a lycee in Bamako, Mali. He received degrees in philosophy, literature, and English in Paris in 1962. He also studied for a doctorate in sociology in Paris.

His best-known work, Le Devoir de violence, is an epic about a fictitious Sudanese empire, in which hundreds of years of African history are unfolded and in which three forces down through the centuries are responsible for the black man's "slave mentality"--the ancient African emperors, the Arabs, and finally, since the mid-1800s, the European colonial administrators--reducing the black man to "negraille" (a word coined by Ouologuem, which Ralph Manheim rendered as "nigger-trash" in his 1971 translation of the novel). The work was highly controversial, some critics claiming it to be a new form of African literature, others maintaining that it was highly derivative of Graham Greene's It's a Battlefield (1934) and of a work by Andre Schwarz-Bart, Le Dernier des Justes (1959; The Last of the Just). Ouologuem viewed the African's lot as a legacy of violence and, in modern times, as a duty of violence toward white misconceptions of blacks that impose on them a slave mentality and character.

Ouologuem's bitterness about white attitudes also appears in some of his poems, and his Lettre a la France negre (1969) attacks the "noble" sentiments that have been expressed by paternalistic French liberals about Africa.

Other works included Les Milles et un bibles du sexe (1969; "The Thousand and One Bibles of Sex"), published under his pseudonym, Utto Rodolph. Ouologuem also coauthored French-language textbooks for foreigners under the title Terres du Soleil (1971; "Lands of the Sun").

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