There are many challenging reads out there, and The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez by Sony Labou Tansi is one of them. “Perhaps we only come into this world to accept the unacceptable. Truth hates us. We have nothing in common with it. Yet, right in front of us, is the deep beauty of things.” Deep and moving, the side of the book I really enjoyed.
The book starts with Lorsa Lopez murdering his wife. People are aware of what is happening, but no one interferes. The body is left for the police to investigate, but because of the less than efficient police in the country, they show up four months later. The corpse is a painful reminder for Lorsa Lopez, and he goes through many painful emotions because of what he did. This is the part of the book that makes sense.
There are many sides of the book that make less sense to me. Magical realism in the style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the one genre that I find rather confusing in general. One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez definitely have other things in common than just the word ‘solitude’ in the title.
Tansi’s book is a satire, which mixes typical African, Western, and Latin American literary elements. Tansi is critical, political, as well as provocative, and it takes a bit of thinking to really understand the way his mind is working. It’s an extremely colourful novel filled with African troubles and rage. The strengths in this book is the rage against corruption and apathy in the country, and the women reacts to this systematic wrongdoings by going on a sex strike.
Several important issue are being tackled in this short novel, and afterwards many things make sense, but there is something confusing about the book I can’t put my finger on. The exaggerations are confusing, for example castrated pygmies and suicides of virgin nuns. Female liberation is an important subject, and I am pleased to see that African men have written about this important issue. I am not fond of the approach, but it might have to do with me wanting to really understand what I read, or at least to a certain point, but I never got to that point while reading this book.
One more thing… I haven’t yet revealed the reason why Lorsa Lopez killed his wife. She gave him lice.