I haven’t posted about a book set in Africa for a while, so let’s fix that! I present to you: So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ.

Set in Senegal, this short book (only 90 pages, including the notes in the back) is written in the form of a letter from one woman, Ramatoulaye, to another, Aissatou. Ramatoulaye’s husband has recently taken a second wife, and while that is accepted in Islam – which they both practice – it is still a betrayal both of her trust and of the life they had built together.

From the first chapter, we learn that not only did Ramatoulaye’s husband take a (younger) second wife, but he also died shortly thereafter. So not only has Ramatoulaye been betrayed, but there is no way for her to ever vent her frustrations and hurt to her husband, or to hope for reconciliation with him in any way.

Sooooo, this letter from Ramatoulaye to Aissatou is pretty serious. She really needs to vent, basically.

This really is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it. It’s short enough you could finish it in one day. It was originally published in French in 1980, and then translated to English by Modupé Bodé-Thomas in 1981.

I don’t want to say too much more about the book, because it’s so short I’m afraid I’d ruin it for you guys! So I think I’ll go ahead and stop here.

What have you read from Senegal?